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‘Awful Feeling’: Indian American Techie Vaishnavi Jayakumar Accuses Meta of Anti-Asian Bias

‘Awful Feeling’: Indian American Techie Vaishnavi Jayakumar Accuses Meta of Anti-Asian Bias

  • In a lawsuit she has filed with California’s Civil Rights Department, she said when asked for a promotion, her superiors would exclude her from projects and told her she was not qualified.

Several years of work experience in the tech industry did not help Vaishnavi Jayakumar from rising through the ranks at Meta. When she asked for a promotion, her superiors at Meta would exclude her from projects and tell her she was not qualified.

While her workload and responsibilities increased, her performance ratings began to slip. These are some of the allegations the Indian American makes in a lawsuit she has filed with California’s Civil Rights Department accusing the company of anti-Asian bias. 

Jayakumar, who’s originally from Singapore has previously worked for Disney, Google, and Twitter. At Meta, she worked on the youth policy team at Meta, where she protected children and teens from bullying, harassment and other forms of abuse, according to USAToday. “I’ve never felt more keenly that as an Asian woman, I’m destined to be a worker, I’m not destined to be a leader,” she told the daily in an interview. “And that’s an awful feeling.”

In a statement released by Stand with Asian Americans (SWAA), a coalition of Asian American activists, also spoke out about “Asian employees continuously struggling for promotions despite qualifications they may have,” a recent ABCNews report said. “Our contributions are valued and even weaponized against other communities of color as long as we keep our heads down and know our place,” Jayakumar said.

“But once we dare to suggest that we are just as good, just as objectively qualified as anyone else for leadership roles, we experience exclusion, derision and retaliation,” she added. “This is something we have whispered about as a community for decades in living rooms and over the dining table, but our parents and grandparents had to stay silent to build a better life for their children. We owe it to them to be the generation that ends this ignominy.”

Elaborating on Jayakumar’s complaint and “the pattern of discrimination,” USAToday noted that it “mirrors” what “the broader Asian American community faced.” It also noted that “Asian Americans are unsupported in the workplace in taking on leadership opportunities.” 

Noting that “generations of men and women before us had to suffer in silence,” Jayakumar notes in the lawsuit that “any one of us wants this to continue for a minute longer than it already has,” USAToday says. She is demanding that “Meta make policy changes, from tracking the rates of promotion for Asian Americans to training managers in tropes and stereotypes about Asian American employees,” the adds the daily. 

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A recent USAToday analysis revealed that although people of Asian descent “outnumber” white employees in several companies like Meta, “their numbers fall off sharply in leadership roles.” Citing 2021 data, the publication noted that 46% of employees at Meta were Asian American, but only 27 percent of them were executives. “White employees, on the other hand, accounted for 39% of Meta’s workforce but 58% of its executives,” the data revealed. 

A 2017 study from Ascend Leadership, a nonprofit group for Asian professionals, showed Asians — especially Asian women — are among “the least likely to be promoted into leadership positions.” Authors Buck Gee, a former vice president at Cisco, and Denise Peck, also a former vice president at Cisco, executives, information collected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2007 and 2015 from technology companies in the San Francisco and San Jose area., as reported by Wired.

“That’s why we call the report the Illusion of Asian Success,” Gee told Wired. “The natural assumption is that if Asians are more prevalent in the workforce, they will be more prevalent at the top. But “when you look at the hard data, that is a fallacy.”

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  • Sounds like it’s as much about gender bias as Asian American bias.
    Although it’s probably both……especially if those doing the promoting are Euro males.
    What about when those in charge are Asian males, including So Asian!!!
    Intersectionality has to include gender and race/ethnicity!

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