Dissertation: Jian-zhong Zhou

Cohort 3, published 2012


Leadership Achievement Gap of Asian/Pacific American Librarians


The total population of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States as a race and an ethnic minority group ranks third at about 5%. However, the population of AAPI with at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree is the largest among all minority groups according to the Census Current Population Survey 2010. At the professional or doctoral degree level, about 20% of the total degree holders over 18 years old are minorities and AAPI account for 10.50% of them. A higher education is a foundation for leadership positions, but highly educated AAPI are severely under-represented at the top leadership level. For example, only 7% of full time tenured college faculty members are AAPI, and less than 1% of college presidents are AAPI, despite the fact that a professional or a doctoral degree is required for both tenured faculty and college president positions, and AAPI account for more than 10% of all professional and doctoral degrees.

This study introduces the Representation Disparity (RD) ratios and Advancement ratios to quantify the under-representation phenomenon in social justice research for the first time. The RD and Advancement ratios measure a probability to be represented at the higher level positions based on the number of professionals in the qualified pools. Each ratio is defined and applied to AAPI in higher education. Not surprisingly, AAPI faculty’s chance to be represented at the top leadership level is much smaller than Whites. But surprisingly, AAPI faculty has a much worse chance to be represented at the president level than Blacks and Hispanics.

Furthermore, this study surveyed two major groups of credentialed AAPI librarians and focused on their leadership achievement gaps. Strong correlations are found between the AAPI librarians highest leadership positions ever held and their advanced education level beyond Master’s Degree in Library Science, years of professional work, scholarly and creative activities, institutional, professional and community involvement. Although AAPI librarians are more educated than general credentialed librarians, and have published more, with similar years experience, their probability to represented at the top leadership level is one third of Whites and one half of Blacks according to this research.

Two theoretical frameworks are introduced in this study which attempts to identify reasons for the contrast between high education attainment and low leadership achievement among AAPI librarians and faculty in education. The Immigration Filtering Theory provides an inside perspective on the high percentage of foreign-born AAPI and high education attainment. The Four Capitals Theory provides an outside perspective on AAPI as a racial minority group. The Four Capital Theory introduces Political Capital as the group influence on policies in the United States, in addition to the existing theories of Human Capital, Cultural Capital, and Social Capital. Weak political capital for AAPI as a group undermines strong individual human capital as measured by high education attainment, strong cultural capital illustrated by the traditional Asian culture which chooses leaders from the best scholars (学而优则仕), and strong social capital as demonstrated by the study of Guanxi, a Chinese theory of networking to expand influence beyond one’s official position.

Finally, the study makes several strong recommendations to AAPI librarians: (a) build ONE strong association for Asian/Pacific librarians and make it a major venue for American Library Association presidential campaigns, (b) promote current or recently retired AAPI chief librarians as role models and mentors, and (c) have all AAPI support policies and legislation to promote immigration through higher education. Further researches on native-born AAPI population, survey of AAPI chief librarian’s hiring authorities, and Hispanic leadership achievement in higher education and in librarianship are recommended.

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