How the ‘model minority’ myth impacts how we see the wage gap for AAPI women

Published: Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

March 15, 2016
Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or

NEW YORK — Today, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks the date when AAPI women close the wage gap between their white counterparts for the last year. That is, AAPI women have to work until March 15, 2016 to be paid the same amount as white workers were paid as of December 31, 2015.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) President Miriam Yeung issued the following statement on how the wage gap impacts AAPI women, who are paid 86 cents to every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man is paid:

“When we talk about the wage gap, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women are usually left out of the conversation because we’re often seen as the ‘model minority.’ That divisive assignation serves to hide the complex realities of AAPI communities and the barriers and discrimination we face.

“The reality is that the AAPI community is comprised of over 50 different ethnic groups, speaking more than 100 different languages. Only when we look at the facts about AAPI women by ethnicity can we see the many different experiences within our diverse community.

“While some AAPI women are among the highest earners, most AAPI ethnicities experience bigger wage gaps than white women. In fact, Bhutanese, Marshallese and Burmese women experience the worst wage gaps as compared to all other ethnicities. Across almost all ethnicities, AAPI women still lag behind males of the same ethnicity.

“More than half-a-million AAPI women live below the poverty line, with many more teetering on the edge. AAPI women make up 4.4 percent of the low-wage workforce, even though we represent just 2.9 percent of the overall workforce. These women — our country’s restaurant workers, nail technicians, domestic workers and retail workers — must no longer be hidden in the shadow cast by the looming ‘model minority’ myth.

“NAPAWF is committed to continuing to give voice to the AAPI women who live paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet despite working full time — often grueling hours doing physically taxing work. We will not rest until we close the wage gap for AAPI women and dispel the ‘model minority’ myth once and for all.”


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multi-issue Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s organization in the country. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.

Comments are closed.