Andrea Yew identifies as a Chinese-American woman. She grew up in California and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating college, she received a job offer at an accounting firm and worked there for 22 years as a CPA and is still working as a CPA. She became one of the first female partners of that firm. Along with her successful career, Andrea is a mother of two and is married, residing in northern California.
“You know we felt, my sisters and I think we just felt very different ’cause there wasn’t a lot of other, definitely not the media, for Asian American girls.”
Growing up, Andrea struggled to see her cultural and ethnic identity accurately represented in the media. She felt that she either only saw white families being portrayed, or offensive Asian stereotypes. In my time talking with her, Andrea discusses the specifics of these stereotypes and how damaging they can be. Because of the lack of representation she saw, she sometimes found herself wishing that she had been born with blue eyes and blonde hair, like the girls she saw on TV, so she would feel more represented. There is an issue in our current society when it comes to seeing underrepresented communities in mainstream media. In a study by Stacey Smith, it was found that movies with underrepresented leads get less funding and less screen time than movies with white leads. When I asked Andrea about what she would change when it comes to how the media represents her identity, she said that she wished they would see her and others who share her identity just how they would see anyone else. She wishes that they would play less into the stereotypes of Asian culture and people. Growing up in the United States, Andrea identifies as Asian-American, specifically Chinese-American, and says that instead of focusing on what it is like for people who share her identity to adapt and live in America, they would just show an Asian-American family just living and existing, as they typically do with families of other races. Andrea says that she would feel represented if the media just portrayed an Asian-American family like they do with white families, and then added a little bit of cultural background and tradition when they were all together at home.
Work and the Gender Pay Gap
“When I became a partner there I was still considered less, even though I was a partner. But because I was a woman with a family and had children never considered on par or equal with the men.”
As a woman, Andrea, dealt with discrimination in the workforce and she, along with her two other sisters, worked hard to be able to break out of the barriers that were being set for working women. When Andrea wanted to become a partner at her past firm, she was told that a woman could not be made a partner. She fought against that idea and told them that she would leave if they did not give her the position she earned. She went out and interviewed with other firms before being told not to leave and that she would be made a partner, the first female partner. After being made a partner, Andrea still faced discrimination against being a woman in the workplace. She was paid less than the men at the firm, even those who had come in after her. Despite being treated differently than her male counterparts, Andrea worked hard in her field to surpass and break out of the stereotypes that were held against her. Andrea is not the only woman who has been viewed as less important in her workplace just because she has children.
The “Mom bias” is a real issue that many women face. “Mothers are sometimes seen as less involved in their work or are too distracted because of their family” (TheLilyNews, 2020). She persevered to show other women that they can have a family and become
Feminism and Gender Equality
“Yes, I think schooling, education is amazing in that field now. Might have something to do with living in California, especially the Bay Area, much more open and forward thinking than other places, but I am pretty amazed at what young children are being taught. Stuff I never got in school.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the work she did was important to Andrea. She described the importance of the work that Justice Ginsberg did for women and how she recently learned even more about how much progress and justice she achieved for women’s rights. I also asked Andrea about her thoughts on how gender equality was being taught in schools in today’s time id how it differed from what was taught when she was in school. Andrea explained that when she was in middle school, they taught woodshop and home ec, and she wanted to take woodshop with the boys. Although they let her take the class, she says that the school thought it was weird and that she was the only girl in the class. Andrea expressed to me how she thought that schools today are much more progressive when talking about things like racial and gender equality. She went on to say that she wishes that schools were this progressive when she was in them and how it would have made things feel a lot more open to her.
Although I cannot exactly relate to Andrea’s experiences as a Chinese-American feeling misrepresented by the media, I do know what it feels like to not see yourself be reflected in the media. As a bisexual gender nonconforming person, I often do not see many people who share my identities and experiences in things like movies and television. Like Andrea also witnessed, I often see harmful or negative stereotypes being played out. I do think that there is hope and that mainstream media is broadening their understanding of different racial, gender, and sexual identities and I hope they continue to strive for diversity so that someday everyone can look at the media and see themselves being reflected in a positive and complex manner. By having the mainstream media show all different aspects of diversity, it can help everyone broaden their understanding of identities they would otherwise be unfamiliar with. In a quote by Audre Lorde, she says “Certainly there are very real differences between us of race, age, and sex. But it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation (Lorde, 1984).” This quote really helps to highlight how important it is for us to come together as a society and celebrate and understand our different identities.
Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Dr. Rene Weber, Marc Choueiti, Dr. Katherine Pieper, Ariana Case, Kevin Yao & Dr. Carmen Lee (2020, February). The Ticket to Inclusion: Gender & Race/Ethnicity of Leads and Financial Performance Across 1,200 Popular Films. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from http://assets.uscannenberg.org/docs/aii-2020-02-05-ticket-to-inclusion.pdf
Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Crossing Press, 1984.
Murray, Stephanie. The Lily. (2020, July 28). We talked to an employment lawyer about ‘mom bias.’ Here’s what she wants you to know. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.thelily.com/we-talked-to-an-employment-lawyer-about-mom-bias-heres-what-she-wants-you-to-know/