Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Karen L. Suyemoto

Second Advisor

Tahirah Abdullah

Third Advisor

Patricia A. Nielson


Asian American women leaders have unique challenges related to their experiences of discrimination due to their simultaneous identities as Asian Americans, women, and leaders. Research with successful women leaders and leaders of color in the U.S. provides numerous examples of discrimination related to being minority leaders, and, also suggest the need for specific strategies to manage these challenges. However, little is known about the nature of the intersectional discrimination experienced by Asian American women leaders or how they have negotiated, addressed, or managed these specific challenges in leadership as they are rarely the focus of research on racism, sexism, or leadership.

This dissertation presents two monographs. The first is an original synthesis of past research and published narratives that included or discussed Asian American women leaders’ experiences with discrimination in leadership. The author developed a theoretical framework derived from Eagly and Karau’s (2002) Role Incongruity Theory to organize, describe, and understand Asian American women leaders’ strategies for intersectional discrimination in leadership. The literature synthesis resulted in a theoretical framework of two major categories of strategies: Interpersonal and Internal, with two Interpersonal Strategies subtypes: Accommodation and Resistance.

The second monograph is qualitative research study with 20 self-identified Asian American women in leadership positions across a range of occupations and career stages. Interviews investigated their specific strategies for managing their experiences of racism, sexism, and their intersection in leadership. Resulting strategies were categorized into Direct interpersonal, Indirect systemic, and Internal Strategies Types, and informed the development of a quantitative survey of strategies for future administration. The results provided empirical support for previous research culled in the literature synthesis and further refined and elaborated on the preliminary theoretical framework for understanding Asian American women leaders’ strategies for negotiating intersectional discrimination in leadership. Findings were developed into a quantitative survey measure of strategies used to negotiate discrimination experienced in leadership positions for Asian American women; this survey can be used in future research on this topic. Implications and future directions for clinical practice, research, and organizational policies to support Asian American women in leadership are discussed.


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