Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Sharon Radd, Ed.D.


Organizational Leadership, Ethics and Leadership



This study sought to answer the research question, “How do Asian American women navigate others’ stereotypes of their intersectional racialized and gendered identity to lead in the nonprofit sector?” Participants identified stereotypes that they’ve encountered in their own work and leadership – most notably drawing from the model minority stereotype of being quiet, passive, submissive, and hardworking. They also identified these stereotypes as presenting barriers to being seen as leaders in their organizations. These findings affirm what is already well documented in the literature. Unfortunately, little has changed since the model minority stereotype first rose to prominence in the 1960s, even in racially conscious, progressive nonprofit spaces. Participants described using a number of strategies to navigate stereotypes as leaders: enacting stereotypes, conforming to dominant culture, practicing self-regulation, finding your people, focusing on systemic change, redefining leadership, acting authentically, and disengaging. While all participants employed multiple strategies at different times and in varying contexts, they described an overall trajectory of moving away from strategies that helped them simply cope with the stereotypes placed on them and towards strategies that furthered their own self-determination. Ultimately, in the face of powerful messages from multiple directions about who and how they should be, this study finds these 14 Asian American women leaders engaged in an ongoing and liberatory quest towards authenticity.