The “bamboo ceiling” is a term used to describe the challenges and barriers that many Asian Americans face in achieving leadership positions in the workplace. A panel on Thursday addressed this issue as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at UNC.
Panelists speaking on the Model Minority but not Model Leader? Unraveling Thoughts on AAPI Leadership talk included UNC faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as speakers from outside the University. All of the panelists hold leadership positions in their fields of work and were chosen to speak for their experiences in these leadership positions.
For many of the speakers, being a good leader comes from outside their identities and experiences as AAPI. North Carolina Asian Americans Together program director and UNC graduate Ricky Leung said it comes more from honesty, and knowing the people you are leading.
“What I think makes a good leader is speaking truth to power and being honest, and also about being a good listener and listening to the people you lead and taking in all those perspectives,” Leung said.
Through the minority myth, Asian Americans are commonly viewed as quieter, behind-the-scenes workers rather than leaders. These perceptions lead to the barrier of the bamboo ceiling. UNC graduate student Melissa Luong says that these perceptions are built into the system in which we live.