Peering Through The Glass Ceiling

glassceilingReaders of 8asians may not realize this, but writing for this blog doesn’t pay the rent, so most of the writers here have day jobs. I’m no exception. My day job is in marketing for a high technology company in Silicon Valley. In this slowing economy that we’re in, I’m fairly lucky in that I work for a company that’s still making money, and in a field that’s still growing. My company also happens to be fairly diverse in their hiring practices, as my coworkers span every racial and ethnic group. The company has also grown quite a bit since I started almost two years ago, and I’ve never really felt there was a glass ceiling at this company until today. (Glass ceilings for Asians has been a recent topic this month with the appointment of Jim Yong Kim as the President of Dartmouth, and L. Ling-Chi Wang’s comment that he could count the number of Asian presidents of universities in the U.S. on his hand.)

My company held a meeting of upper management over these last two days. We have close to 1400 employees, and a select group of 65 top level executives ranging from C-level, president, vice presidents and directors met to discuss corporate strategy for the next year. As I sat in the meeting today it slowly dawned on me, that out of the 65 assembled, the minority count included only one Latino in the group (and I didn’t think he really counted since he was the VP of Sales for Latin America), and four Asians. The other three Asians all worked in engineering. For a company as diverse as mine, I found it strange I was the only Asian not in engineering, and with my ranking as a director, I was the lowest titled management at the assembly.

8asians has of course covered this topic of Asians and the glass ceiling in a previous posting, noting that Asians hold only 12 percent of managerial positions, but are 30% of the population in Silicon Valley. This study looked at all managerial positions, and if you compare it with my company, you’d find it’s probably accurate, as there are a fair number of Asian managers in my company, just none at the director level and above, outside of engineering (myself excepted). It makes me wonder, if you took out mid-level managers, what the percentage of Asians you’d find would be at the executive level at companies in Silicon Valley.

The lack of minorities at my company was just never obvious to me before, because all the prior managerial meetings included mid-level managers and above. We’ve gotten too large to include mid-level managers in strategy sessions, and I was just surprised to realize the glass ceiling seems to exist in my own backyard.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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