The career adjustment of Asian American males: Perceptions and reflections of a glass ceiling in corporate finance

Robin Li-Liang, Fordham University


This qualitative study was conducted to assess Asian American men and relevant career developmental issues that come up in their pursuit of advancement to the top tiers of Corporate America. Issues assessed included areas of cultural conflict at the office due to differences between Asian and Western background, as well as the perception of the glass ceiling and one's subsequent outlook on future career success as an Asian American male in positions of leadership and executive decision-making. Ten Asian American males of varying ethnic backgrounds, and all employed in corporate finance were interviewed and audio taped over the telephone. Individual experiences and perceptions were captured, then analyzed according to the methodology outlined by grounded theory research. An emergent theory supported by the data suggests that the male, Asian American, corporate professionals in this study possess a strong bicultural identity. Although most participants confirm that Asian family influences are significant, participants also simultaneously conform to and adopt many Western expectations inherent within Corporate America, that may at times conflict with their Asian traditions. Most participants acknowledged a lack of common backgrounds with many of their Western colleagues and supervisors as they relayed experiences of trying to fit in with the group. Most frequently, participants reported shared experiences of facing stereotypes at work. They felt these stereotypes to be detrimental and to work against them in ways which deprived them of opportunities to develop necessary leadership skills. All participants in this sample noted the scarcity of Asian American male representation in positions of leadership and management at the top of major corporations. In many cases, participants held optimistic outlooks on opportunities for career advancement but added that they would have to work harder to achieve (i.e., opportunities for client-facing positions) recognition. Limitations of the study, implications for practitioners, and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

Subject Area

Counseling education|Occupational psychology|Ethnic studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Li-Liang, Robin, "The career adjustment of Asian American males: Perceptions and reflections of a glass ceiling in corporate finance" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3373828.