Unfair disadvantages

Every time I sit down and negotiate with a company, I always have two underlying disadvantages working directly against me. The first one is being Asian the second one is age.

It is not something that is said out loud but I’ve had several people telling me the blunt truth after they’ve spent some time with me and have gotten past the stereotype to find out more. The first thing that comes to people’s mind when they see Asians is low quality cheap products, even if they are Japanese. A misconception that we have to get through if we are to market a high quality product in America or any western countries for owners above 50 years of age. This stereotype is less severe as people get younger. For any industry outside of High tech, you can see that this present a significant headwind for me. The other stereotype that I had to get through is that I spreak broken Chingrish. Which is easy enough to get through as soon as I open my mouth. Harder to do however, with emails. Still have a hard time convincing people that I speak 3 languages fluently though.

Age is another big factor. I look 27. To most people that I interact with, I still look like a student if I am wearing anything other than my suit and tie while sporting a stubble. So I suffer from being brushed off a lot because most people can’t take me seriously and I’ve had play “guess the age of an Asian woman” game with all my clients in order to built into their mind that Asian age = guesstimated age + 7 years.

But looking young isn’t the only battle when it comes to age. Ever since I was young, the people that I’ve been dealing with across the conference table have been people with gray hair that have a lot more experience and money/power than I do. There is nothing I can do about this except to feel a bit bitter since it is a consequence of trying to climb up too fast in sectors that are not hi-tech in nature.


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