Study published by Association of Asian American Investment Managers reveals hurdles faced by AAPI women

San Francisco, CA, September 27, 2022 — According to a new study published by the Association of Asian American Investment Managers (AAAIM) and co-authored by Backstop Solutions, more than 80% of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women say the bamboo ceiling effect is real. Additionally, 65% of AAPI women disagree that opportunities for advancement are equitable regardless of race or gender. This new report aims to reveal the unique challenges faced by AAPI women who struggle to break through the ‘bamboo glass ceiling.’

The study, titled “Beyond the Glass Ceiling”, surveyed over 600 respondents in investment management to determine if advancement opportunities for female AAPI industry professionals were equitable – and how their AAPI ethnicity has impacted their careers.

Key findings included:

  • 80% of AAPI women say the bamboo ceiling effect is real.
  • 65% of AAPI women disagree or strongly disagree that opportunities for advancement are equitable regardless of race or gender.
  • 57% of AAPI women said the bamboo ceiling has affected their career; and 72% said it affects genders differently.
  • 62% of AAPI women said the bamboo ceiling most often hindered their career at the latter stages as they moved beyond junior-level positions.

“AAPI women face two simultaneous challenges – to break through both the glass ceiling and the bamboo ceiling. This requires AAPI women to challenge stereotypes and perceptions associated with not only being a woman, but being an Asian woman in our industry,” notes Brenda Chia, AAAIM’s Board Co-Chair. “We hope this study is eye-opening for employers to accept a shared accountability to their female AAPI employees who are intentional about their career growth.”

“The double bind of being a woman and ethnically Asian has professionally constrained AAPI women’s ability to reach their full potential, despite credibility or performance,” said Ginger Lew, AAAIM Co-founder. “This study overwhelmingly shows that Asian women who seek leadership roles, professional advancement, and in some cases, basic respect, are hindered by the conscious and unconscious societal and industry biases.”

The study rooted out specific stereotypes that plague the female AAPI community, noting that for AAPI women, “asserting themselves was almost an affront to traditionally held misperceptions of AAPI women as quiet or subservient. And, as AAPI women combat both the glass and bamboo ceilings, cultural traits of humility or humbleness are viewed as attributes that are standing in the way of their success.”

One study participant noted, “Asian women leaders face a double-edged sword. To be leaders, we need to be assertive and decisive, but being so defies stereotypes and expectations.”

Amy (Wu) Stratton, a former director in Citi Global Markets last year and founder of MyAsianVoice LLC, a platform for Asian women, commented that corporate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives often aren’t focused on AAPI workers, and AAPI women typically get lumped into broader women’s initiatives that don’t acknowledge their unique space in the workplace. She said, “Asian females want to be leaders. They want to be up top. But not enough are being seen or recognized.”

As a result, the study encourages employers to understand the dynamics of the biases towards the AAPI female community and assess their own workplace culture, practices and policies to ensure a level playing field for all. More than 60% of study respondents said that networking groups specifically for AAPI women and culturally informed leadership training would be meaningfully helpful.

To read the complete study, please visit the AAAIM website.

The Association of Asian American Investment Managers is a national non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the investment management industry and serving as a powerful voice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Our goal is to elevate underrepresented groups through education, networking, and empowerment.

About Backstop Solutions
Backstop’s mission is to help professionals in the institutional investment industry use time to its fullest potential. We develop technology to simplify and streamline otherwise time- consuming tasks and processes, enabling our clients to quickly and easily access, share, and manage the knowledge that is critical to their day-to-day business success. Backstop provides its industry-leading cloud-based productivity suite to investment consultants, pensions, funds of funds, family offices, endowments, foundations, private equity, hedge funds, and real estate investment firms. For more information, please visit


Kit Canlas / AAAIM

Binna Kim / Vested on behalf of AAAIM