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Asians in Medicine Discuss Stereotypes

By Zoe Argento

Asian-Americans in medicine broke a traditional silence on issues specific to the Asian community last Saturday and discussed discrimination, stereotypes and lack of awareness on Asian diversity.

An audience of nearly 100 undergrads and graduates from most of the Harvard graduate schools gathered to hear five Asian-Americans in the field of medicine and an expert in race relations at a conference at the Medical School.

Although the panel found no discrimination against Asians in academic medicine, they discussed a tendency to stereotype Asians and categorize the diverse group under one bracket in public policy.

All agreed with the Asian Health Association's motive for organizing the forum--that there is a "lack of public discourse on issues specific to the Asian community."

Students said they found the forum helpful and inspiring.

"It gave me a chance to understand other people's approaches that I might not hear from friends," said Cynthia S. Wu '98.

Diversity Ignored

James Ho, a member of the Asian Health Association, thought that one of the most important issues raised at the conference was the grouping of extremely diverse groups under the same heading of Asians in public policy.

Such generalizations, said Ho, skew research funding so that although "Chinese women get cervical cancer more than Caucasians," they are ignored because all Asian women do not share this problem.

Panelist Dong Suh, a member of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum gave an example of the diversity of Asians in America. "Asians have the highest percentage of college degrees of any minority and the highest percentage of people with [only] five years of education," he said.

Generalization of Asians in public policy "more out of convenience than anything else," Suh said, "obfuscates the real picture."

Discrimination?

The speakers generally agreed that they had not faced much discrimination in health care.

Members of the audience feared, however, that their successes might blind them to the existence of discrimination against other Asian-Americans.

Although all panelists saw the under-representation of Asians in leadership roles as an issue, they did not find this the result of discrimination.

Dr. Nelson Y. Kiang, professor of physiology at the Medical School, bemoaned the lack of Asians in the upper levels of institutions. He gave MIT as an example.

"A few years ago there were no Asian counselors--even though there were some notable suicides," he said. "The students had nowhere to go to find someone who understood the culture they came from."

The speakers agreed; however, that such a lack derives more from Asian society--and less from discrimination.

"Asians are more focused on academic excellence than on public policy," explained Dr. Abul K. Abbas, professor of pathology at the Medical School.

"Throughout the entire East, the basic social unit is the family," said Kiang. "The social pressure is not to hype yourself but to be meek and self-effacing."

Another reason suggested was that Asian-Americans have not been in the system long enough to achieve positions of authority.

Dr. Fred P. Li, professor of medicine, noted, "Most Asians in health care are under the age of 35 and wouldn't be leaders under any condition." Abbas agreed that the numbers of Asian leaders will increase as Asians move through the system.

These were encouraging answers for members of the audience who came to the forum concerned about whether "Asians entering academic medicine might find ceilings."

Li not only said that "I've never felt that people obstructed my potential by ethnicity," but that "in managing a large group of different peoples, being a minority can help while being a white male can cause problems.

Stereotypes A Double Edged Sword.

Stereotypes of Asians however provoked less enthusiasm.

A question asked by a number of the illustrated the double-edged nature of stereotyping.

"I heard a professor say, I want only Chinese graduate students for my labs because they do whatever I tell them."

Dr. Abbs responded with "probably the to our progress as a community is that are unwilling to authority, emphasize following convention."

Dr. Hie- Hann, professor of medicine at the Jefferson Medical College, however the other side of the argument. "You hard working, intelligent Chinese as a trademark to get and companies may prefer Chines ."

A similar ambiguity was to stereotypes of women in Asian of a passive and obedient be positive because people going to make trouble. The stereotype , however, if people use her," said Dr. Alvin F. professor of psychiatry.

In response to a question on the stereotypes of Asians in academic Kiang replied that they exist.

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

"I heard a professor say, I want only Chinese graduate students for my labs because they do whatever I tell them."

Dr. Abbs responded with "probably the to our progress as a community is that are unwilling to authority, emphasize following convention."

Dr. Hie- Hann, professor of medicine at the Jefferson Medical College, however the other side of the argument. "You hard working, intelligent Chinese as a trademark to get and companies may prefer Chines ."

A similar ambiguity was to stereotypes of women in Asian of a passive and obedient be positive because people going to make trouble. The stereotype , however, if people use her," said Dr. Alvin F. professor of psychiatry.

In response to a question on the stereotypes of Asians in academic Kiang replied that they exist.

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

Dr. Hie- Hann, professor of medicine at the Jefferson Medical College, however the other side of the argument. "You hard working, intelligent Chinese as a trademark to get and companies may prefer Chines ."

A similar ambiguity was to stereotypes of women in Asian of a passive and obedient be positive because people going to make trouble. The stereotype , however, if people use her," said Dr. Alvin F. professor of psychiatry.

In response to a question on the stereotypes of Asians in academic Kiang replied that they exist.

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

A similar ambiguity was to stereotypes of women in Asian of a passive and obedient be positive because people going to make trouble. The stereotype , however, if people use her," said Dr. Alvin F. professor of psychiatry.

In response to a question on the stereotypes of Asians in academic Kiang replied that they exist.

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

In response to a question on the stereotypes of Asians in academic Kiang replied that they exist.

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

"The general stereotype is that considered to be hard-working focused on their field of study and social."

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

He thought this was a stereotype among other educators than among student but said that among colleagues, too it could be made unimportant.

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

"Develop your local he advised students considering academic medicine. "If you are an oncologist you most try to be a very good oncologist, but at the same time, do not allow your thoughts to bury themselves in your disciplines. You must understand the organization that you're in."

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

Probably the greatest impediment to our progress as a community is that we are unwilling to challenge authority, and emphasize following conventions.'

--Dr. Abul K. Abbas

Professor of Pathology

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