A longtime friend of mine who will go unnamed was never a great student. In high school, he “achieved” passable grades by babysitting the teachers’ kids. I kid you not. He was in band, but couldn’t play his instrument. Or at least not very well, whatever it was. But what he could play was the conductor, by making him laugh and otherwise inundating him with hard-to-resist charm. This white and partly Hispanic friend of mine got by on a kind of old school personality type that relies more on street smarts than books smarts. And now he’s a successful salesman, living internationally no less.
The above comes to mind — as does public high school corruption, come to think of it — when hearing about the paltry number of Asian-Americans in executive positions in Silicon Valley. Paltry when considering that Asian-Americans are roughly 50% of the SV workforce. Mother Jones’ Josh Harkinson queries America’s social conscience on the matter:
Asian workers are far less likely than whites to end up in the leadership ranks. According to a study that the nonprofit Ascend Foundation released last week, white workers are two and a half times more likely then their Asian counterparts to serve as executives at major tech companies.
“Asians and Asian Americans are generally stereotyped as being non-confrontational or timid,” says Lee, the former publisher of Hyphen, a magazine about the Asian-American experience. “This has nothing to do with their actual skills or abilities.”
First, let me note Harkinson’s casual observation of something conservatives have noticed since forever: “diversity” does not typically refer to Asians. “When people talk about the need for diversity in tech, they aren’t usually talking about Asian Americans,” Harkinson explains, though with the qualifier of “diversity in tech.” Readers of The American Spectator of course know that the lack-of-diversity charge is erroneously leveled at other institutions too, e.g. NYC’s elite public schools. It’s vital to call out this common media trick/tic, because the lay reader, who’s more likely to skim an article or merely recall its headline, might never grasp that the target in question isn’t actually some white, male utopia.* But that’s an article for another day…
Mother Jones suggests that Asian-Americans’ plight, if you can call it that, is due to the stereotypes that presumably white people are carrying around in their heads. Stereotypes that have “nothing to with actual skills or abilities.” But where’s the evidence for that? Or more pointedly, where’s the evidence that their views of AA as being timid or non-confrontational is wrong? Based on my own stint with a Palo Alto firm, I can tell you that it’s probably right.
But how about we let something a little less anecdotal weigh in. According to a study published in the Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, AA men are generally less extraverted than their white counterparts. And this has obvious implications for potential leadership roles:
Consistent with past studies, Asian Americans scored higher than European Americans on Neuroticism while European Americans scored higher on Extraversion and Openness. [This based on the Big Five personality dimension, which the researchers claim has “strong cross-cultural robustness.”]
Now maybe it’d behoove white executives to spend more time coaxing their AA employees into becoming leaders, but typically that’s something you just do, if you aspire to it. Waiting to have executive greatness thrust upon you, via charity from on high no less, is kind of a non-starter.
In any case as Breitbart observes, AA are actually over-represented in Silicon Valley executive positions when compared to their share of the U.S. population (conversely, white “brogrammers” are actually under-represented):
Even using Ascend’s numbers, with only 5.3 percent of the US population, Asians hold 13.9 percent executive jobs in Silicon Valley. That means Asians are 262 percent more likely to hold Silicon Valley executive jobs than their demographic group would predict.
*In the linked “elite public schools” article, CTRL+F-ing “Asian” places you eight paragraphs in!