Summary and Action Items: Harvard, Asians and personality issues

Several insights, takeaways and action-items from Harvard Is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities”. It’s all translated for you below.

Several insights, takeaways and action-items from Harvard Is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities. It’s all translated for you below……

Recap:

A lawsuit alleges that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants. As the article notes, Harvard’s admission committee regularly de-selects Asian-American students because it judges them “lower than others on traits like ‘positive personality.’ likability, courage, kindness, and being ‘widely respected.'”

Quick Takeaways:

  • Hiring: Even from the schools or companies you’re recruiting from, there may be built-in biases to their own processes. In this case, Harvard (where you should be getting top talent from, right?) may have hurdles in place in it’s own selection process (which, therefore, affects your selection process).
  • Assessment: In this case, data suggests that Asian students applying to Harvard outperformed all other racial groups on every measure of academic achievement: grades, SAT scores and the most AP exams passed. They had more extracurricular activities than their white counterparts. They were rated by interviewers who had met them as virtually on par with their white counterparts in their personal qualities. Yet Harvard admissions officers, many of whom had never met these applicants, scored them collectively as the worst of all groups in the one area — personality.
  • Don’t forget, Harvard’s record with Asian-American applicants isn’t spotless. There’s an actual history here.
  • “Until very recently, Asian-Americans have been politically quiescent and largely deferential to a status quo that works against them. But now, a portion of the Asian-American community is acting in what it deems to be its own interest.”
  • See Matthew’s quick analysis for more.

Action-Items:

  • Numbers: Consider that when you break a workforce of candidate pool down by numbers, the process inherently takes away the human element from groups. “I love these kids, and I know how hard they work. So these just look like numbers to all you guys, but I see their faces.”
  • Hiring: Take potential biases into account when you’re looking at resumes and candidates. You don’t know what’s under the surface. In this case, a white graduate from Harvard who went to one of the top private high schools in the nation may have the exact same qualifications (or even be less qualified) than an Asian graduate from Vanderbilt who went the same high school (and didn’t get into Harvard).
  • Assessment: Take a look at your own assessment metrics. Do you have anything in place that resembles the process at Harvard? When you talk about “personality” or “culture fit”, what do you mean and how to determine that? (Do you want people to fit into your culture, or do you want them to add to your culture?).
  • Gut check: A subtle note, but Asian-Americans (or Non-American Asians for that matter) are often spotlighted less in discussions about racism, being underprivileged, or having hurdles – especially in the tech industry. Here is an opportunity to first be self-reflective on how this plays into your own culture, and then educate and discuss internally at your company.

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