Asian Indian Americans in the Bay Area and the Glass Ceiling

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Sage Publications


Using the 1990 5% PUMS census data, this paper explores the glass ceiling experiences of college educated Asian Indian Americans in the Bay Area. Theoretical assumptions derived from human capital, assimilation, labor market structures, size discrimination, and cost of race perspectives are used to predict glass ceiling experiences. Separate analyses are conducted for males and females. U.S. born white males and females are used as benchmarks in the male and female models respectively. As predicted by the cost of race assumption, educated Asian Indian American males experience a net disadvantage in rising to management levels. The relative success of immigrant white males in management provides additional support for the cost of race assumption. Once Asian Indian males become managers, their economic returns are better than or commensurate with that of comparable white male managers in some sectors but not in others. Immigrant and U.S. born Asian Indian females face the glass ceiling at both levels: they are disadvantaged in becoming managers and earn less than comparable U.S. born white females once they become managers. There is no conclusive evidence to support the size discrimination hypothesis for males and females. The glass ceiling findings are interpreted using qualitative interview data from Asian Indian Americans in the Bay Area.