Image of What is the "bamboo ceiling" in the Silicon Valley tech industry?

What is the “bamboo ceiling” in the Silicon Valley tech industry?

Much attention has rightly been focused on the glass ceiling discrimination that exists in many of the most profitable industries in America, including the financial and technology sectors.

One issue, however, that has not been explored as deeply is the under-representation of Asian-American employees in the executive ranks (dubbed the “bamboo ceiling”) of technology companies.

female executiveThe “bamboo ceiling:”  another form of promotion discrimination in Silicon Valley

An in-depth analysis of publicly available information from some of the top technology companies, including Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, sheds some revealing light on the dearth of Asian-American executives across the industry.

Although Asian-American employees are actually in some cases over-represented in non-management positions in these five tech companies, they are, according to Ascend Foundation‘s research, “severely underrepresented at the executive levels.”

Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) definition, “Asian” includes any citizen or noncitizen having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent.

The data from these five companies show that Asian employees comprised 27.2% of the professional workforce, but made up only 13.9% of the executives in the professional workforce at Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, LinkedIn, and Yahoo.

Some of the more striking conclusions that the Ascend Foundation draws from its data analyses include:

  • “Although there are nearly as many Asian professionals as white professionals in most of these five companies, white men and women are ~154% more likely to be an executive compared to their Asian counterparts.”
  • “Asian women are the least represented as executives, relative to their percentage in the workforce. There are 9,254 Asian women professionals in our sample (13.5%), but only 36 Asian women executives (3.1%).”

Law Firm Combatting Discrimination Nationwide in the tech industry

Hiring a proven and effective advocate is critical to obtaining the maximum recovery in an employment discrimination case.  Eric Bachman, Chair of the Firm’s Discrimination Practice, has substantial experience litigating precedent-setting individual and class action discrimination cases.   His wins include a $100 million settlement in a disparate impact Title VII class action and a $16 million class action settlement against a major grocery chain.

Bachman writes frequently on topics related to promotion discrimination, harassment, and other employment discrimination issues at the Glass Ceiling Discrimination Blog.

U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have named Zuckerman Law a Tier 1 firm in Litigation – Labor and Employment in the Washington DC metropolitan area.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you.  To schedule a free confidential consultation, click here or call us at 202-769-1681 or 202-262-8959.

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Eric Bachman litigates employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation cases. He can be reached at (202) 769-1681 and [email protected]. Bachman is Chair of the discrimination and retaliation Practices at Zuckerman Law. Previously, Bachman served as Special Litigation Counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and a Deputy Special Counsel with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.