RACIAL, ETHNIC, AND GENDER DIFFERENCES AMONG ENTERING COLLEGE STUDENT ATTITUDES TOWARD LEADERSHIP, CULTURE, AND LEADER SELF-IDENTIFICATION: A FOCUS ON ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICANS
Balon, Daniello Garma
SEDLACEK, WILLIAM E
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While Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) represent one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, APAs continue to be misunderstood as the "model minority" and subsequently are underserved in higher education. Limited research on APA students has left a void in understanding how APAs may relate to current leadership and student development approaches, many of which are based in Western cultural paradigms. This study utilized <i>Leadership Categorization Theory</i> (Lord, Foti, & De Vader, 1984; Lord, Foti, & Phillips, 1982) and <i>Positionality Theory</i> (Alcoff, 1988) with an <i>Intersectional Analysis</i> (Crenshaw, 1991; Weber, 2001) to explain how leadership perceptions are related to social group positions. Data were collected from representative samples of first-year undergraduates (<i>N</i> = 1964) and APA undergraduates (<i>N</i> = 270) before starting their first semester at the University of Maryland. Controlling for diversity awareness with the Universal-Diverse Orientation (UDO) scale (Fuertes, Miville, Mohr, Sedlacek, & Gretchen, 2000), multivariate analyses of covariance determined significant differences by race, ethnicity (i.e., Chinese/Taiwanese, Filipino, Indian, and Korean Americans), and gender. UDO correlated positively with most leadership perception variables. Results showed that APAs are less likely than other races to think that individuals from their cultural background are excellent leaders and to categorize themselves with the leader label. APAs are no different from other races in believing that leaders should address social justice or social change issues, although APAs are least likely to believe that they individually can make a difference in the community. Asian Indian Americans are more likely than other Asian American ethnicities to believe in the importance of and self-appraisal in working for social change. No significant differences were found by ethnicity in terms of leader self-categorization, culture, or UDO scores. Also, APA women have more diversity awareness and are more likely than men to think that cross-cultural skills are required for effective leadership. Findings suggest that APAs may have internalized "model minority" or "perfidious foreigner" images and thus, may feel culturally marginalized from leadership and the leader role. Further, this study confirmed the notion that leadership is perceived as socially constructed, culturally based, and related to social change.