A Longitudinal Test and A Qualitative Field Study of the Glass Ceiling Effect for Asian Americans

Open Access
Chen, Tina T.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 15, 2003
Committee Members:
  • James Lewis Farr, Committee Chair
  • Jeanette Cleveland, Committee Member
  • Scott M Hofer, Committee Member
  • Kevin R Murphy, Committee Member
  • glass ceiling
  • Asian Americans
  • longitudinal
  • qualitative
There has been little research on the issues facing Asian Americans in terms of career mobility. Asian Americans are an unique minority group in the United States due to their relatively high rates of educational attainment, employment in professional and technical fields, and their status as the “model minority.” Existing research has shown that the successful image of Asian Americans is not mirrored by reality, that in fact Asian Americans do encounter a glass ceiling effect like women and other minority group members. Study 1 is an empirical longitudinal test of the existence of the glass ceiling for Asian American professionals in the science and engineering fields. This quantitative test of the glass ceiling effect is an extension of the work by Cotter and colleagues (2001), which specifies four specific criteria that define the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling was conceptualized and operationalized as a dynamic model that changes over time. Cross-sequential analyses applying latent growth curve modeling were used to test for the glass ceiling effect. Results from Study 1 found a glass ceiling effect for Asian Americans in certain work experience cohorts. Study 2 was qualitative field study to supplement Study 1 by assessing the psychological and process variables that affect the career development of Asian American professionals. Results of Study 2 found generational differences that lead to differences in experiences and career outcomes for Asian American professionals. Taken together, results from both studies indicate that Asian Americans do experience a glass ceiling in their upward mobility and this stems from individual, organizational, and structural factors.