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Throughout the history of the United States, fluctuations in cultural diversity, immigration, and ethnic group status have been closely linked to shifts in the economy and labor market. Over three decades after the beginning of the civil rights movement, and in the midst of significant socioeconomic change at the end of this century, scholars search for new ways to describe the persistent roadblocks to upward mobility that women and people of color still encounter in the workforce.
In Glass Ceilings and Asian Americans, Deborah Woo analyzes current scholarship and controversies on the glass ceiling and labor market discrimination in conjunction with the specific labor histories of Asian American ethnic groups. She then presents unique, in-depth studies of two current sites―a high tech firm and higher education―to argue that a glass ceiling does in fact exist for Asian Americans, both according to quantifiable data and to Asian American workers' own perceptions of their workplace experiences. Woo's studies make an important contribution to understanding the increasingly complex and subtle interactions between ethnicity and organizational cultures in today's economic institutions and labor markets.
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Deborah Woo is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.Review:
Woo skillfully brings together a scattered literature and contributes an interesting account of Asian American workers' promotion experiences and expectations in a high-tech firm. This book will serve as a valuable resource to researchers in the field of workplace inequality, who have noted the relative lack of materials on Asian Americans' experiences. Its comprehensive coverage of the socioeconomic status of Asian Americans and the barriers they continue to face will also make a nice addition to undergraduate and graduate classes. (Naomi Cassirer, (University of Notre Dame) Work and Occupations)
The book offers a balanced analysis of the cultural and structural forces that diminish Asian Americans' access to upper management. What is most compelling about Woo's study is that results of her analysis corroborate the claim of the dominant influence of multiple structural forces that pull women and racial minorities away from top managerial posts.... In sum, I think this book is essential reading for anyone interested in career processes for minorities in organizational settings. It would also make an ideal supplementary reading for an undergraduate course on social stratification and mobility. (Joyce Tang, (Queens College) Contemporary Sociology)
One of the strengths of this book is the insightful and thorough presentation of the state of research on the glass ceiling. The text is rich with supporting data from the field and from other studies, which draws the reader into the mainstream currents of the debate. Key barriers in researching the glass ceiling are identified, making the work useful from the perspective of methodology. This book makes a very important contribution to the field. (Kathleen Valtonen, (University of the West Indies) Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)
Deborah Woo has produced a valuable book that will reach beyond those narrowly interested in the question of employment discrimination against Asian Americans. The successes of Asian Americans, and the economic obstacles they face, are much misunderstood, subject both to the whims of stereotype and to the faulty assumptions of scholars and politicians. Woo's project is to clear up the common misunderstandings as well as advance her original research on glass ceilings among professional Asian Americans. (Philip N. Cohen, University of California, Irvine Review Of Radical Political Economics 34, (2002))
Woo, a university instructor and researcher, provides compelling evidence that Asian Americans have difficulty achieving higher levels of management because they experience a glass ceiling. She reaches this conclusion partly based on a literature review of Federal Glass Ceiling Commission research, organizational culture research, historical and demographic analysis of Asian Americans in the workplace, and high-profile legal cases in higher education. She also investigates a prestigious government aerospace organization through a review of its personnel practices and interviews with its Asian American employees. Her investigation revealed problems in the organization's subjective standards for promotions and management perceptions of Asian Americans. Asian Americans are perceived to occupy a middle position between the elites and the masses and between producers and consumers. She recommends that the organization expand informal workshops related to individual career plans, conduct regular facility-wide studies of career programs, survey the cultural climate, and develop a rational succession plan, recommendations that have broad applicability. Woo's book is recommended for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students and faculty researchers. (G. E. Kaupins, (Boise State University) CHOICE)
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