Monday, June 22, 2009

Asian Am. Profs. Spoke Up in Response to 80-20

In response to 80-20's e-newsletter "Speak up, AsAm Professors," many did. 2 sad stories are shared. We have Asian Ams early in their careers in mind - know the real world, before too late. Under (3), 80-20 explains how it'll win equal opportunity for Asian Ams. - indeed soon, if we'll each do our share.

(1) Sharing My Painful Experience--Speaking Up

The glass ceiling is hard to prove because the hiring agency will always find something to defend why someone was not hired. Here, I may be showing you a few examples.

Last year I was among the final two candidates interviewed for two senior public health positions with the same federal agency. For one position, the agency hired an in-house female staff who had agency specific experience but had only a MPH as academic credentials even though the expectation was for a PhD, which I had. The second case involved a more grueling process where I passed an interview with an expert panel drawn from other federal agencies; and then flown in for a face-to-face interview. Again, I was passed for a female staff from another federal office (who was a disgruntled former worker who had left the agency a few years earlier and was aspiring to come back under the new director.) One panel interviewer anonymously shared with me that I was the top pick of the panel. Interestingly, the selected candidate was an African American lady and one of the top hiring executives was also an African American lady. Specifically in this case, I suspect discrimination since I brought state level pragmatism and substantive experience that were expected of the job but the other candidate lacked even though she was a good researcher.

I was also seriously vested the third time with the same agency where I was among three finalists but was not invited for an interview. I am glad they did not because they would not have taken me and hence spared me the agony. Interestingly though, the seriously considered candidate was a Chinese American who, based on the inside scoop, was a prolific scientist. He was allegedly not hired for two reasons: (a) doctorate degree outside the US; and (b) not very articulate in spoken English.

Despite an agonizing 10 months ordeal and impending frustrations, I will continue to try since not doing so would allow such practices go unchallenged. To me, the fact that many of Asian Americans had to be twice as qualified, twice smarter, speak English proficiently and with almost impeccable accent, and be the unique minority professional is simply intriguing. Equally sad is the reality how easily we are shortchanged for someone who is less qualified.

(2) From a Math Prof. who took his case to court

I have had the bitter taste of it and fought against it in court. My case had so much merits that an organization of professionals supported me with legal services including that of an attorney. …. I lost the case in a federal court. Nevertheless, I am happy that I did what I had to do. . . . . . .

I have a couple of suggestions to 80-20.

1. Form a committee to make a list of undesirable colleges/institutions for Asians to work there, it functions sort of like Better Business Bureau.

2. Provide legal services on a contingency basis pending evaluation on merits. Asians need Asian lawyers who are compassionate about discrimination against Asians. (80-20 is indeed working on a partnership with a well-known Asian Am. Legal Center for the said purpose.)

(3) 80-20's Program to Win Equal Opportunity For Asian Ams.

Subtle discriminations are very hard to prove in courts. However, the accumulation of numerous discriminatory acts against us in workplaces had resulted in irrefutable statistical evidence of the glass ceiling against us. See how our bars are much shorter than those of all other Americans in chart 1 of the picture.

Hence, 80-20 chooses to get the Department of Labor, DOL, to enforce Exec. Order 11246* for us -- a law that had been enforced for all except Asian Ams. DOL had traditionally used statistics to confront universities/industries with the need to remove the glass ceilings from blacks, women, & Hispanics. If an institution failed to comply, DOL is empowered by E.O. 11246 to terminate all federal contracts to that institution! A powerful law!

See Pres. Obama's unequivocal commitment to enforce E.O. 11246 for us. In one move, 80-20 aims to help all 14 million Asian Ams win equal opportunity in workplaces painlessly. Compare that to consuming huge amount of time, money, and personal dignity struggling for one verdict in court.

The enforcement should begin soon, especially if there is a dramatic increase in membership for 80-20. Do your share. Effective politics depends on clout! YOU can help give 80-20 clout.

To join 80-20, go Clink on the red button in the lower right corner. Or send a check to 80-20 PAC, PO Box 22509, Philadelphia, PA 19110. 80-20 gets paid double for NEW members, owing to a NEW matching fund of $3,500.

Respectfully yours,

S. B. Woo
Acting Exec. Director (a volunteer), 80-20 PAC, Inc.

* To know more about E.O. 11246, visit