Are Asian American Women Advantaged?: Labor Market Performance of College Educated Female Workers

Originally posted on Project Muse


Prior research reveals that the labor-market performance of Asian American women exceeds that of white women. Using the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, this study investigates the aspects of the labor market in which the Asian advantage may occur—unemployment, annual earnings, and the number of people supervised. Our results show that when controlling for field of study, college type, region of residence, and other demographic variables, none of the Asian American female groups are advantaged on any of the three aspects. Contrary to the popular perception, even native-born Asian American women are not advantaged. Instead, they are more likely than white women to be unemployed, and once employed they are less likely to attain positions that involve supervising a large number of people. Asian American women who immigrated after high school are disadvantaged in all three respects, even if they earn their highest degree at a US institution. Those who immigrated before high school fare better than other Asian American groups, but they are still disadvantaged in terms of the number of people supervised. The implications of these findings are discussed.