American Sociological Association

Honorary Whites? Asian American Women and the Dominance Penalty

Women face a double bind in positions of leadership; they are expected to display authority in order to appear competent but are judged as socially deficient if they are perceived to be too dominant. This dominance penalty is well documented, but most studies examine reactions only to white women’s leadership displays. The authors use an experimental design to compare evaluations of hypothetical job promotion candidates who are all characterized as extremely accomplished but who differ on their race (Asian American or white American), gender (man or woman), and behavioral style (dominant or communal). Regardless of behavioral style, participants evaluate the white woman as having the worst interpersonal style and the Asian American woman as the least fit for leadership. These findings demonstrate the importance of accounting for intersectionality in documenting the effect of cultural stereotypes on workplace inequality.


Justine Tinkler, Jun Zhao, Yan Li, and Cecilia L. Ridgeway