Sunday, December 22, 2019

URSP Student Tharuna Kalaivanan Tackles Racialization Affecting First-generation Asian-Americans’ Perception of Organizational Commitment and Identification

As a first-generation college student, I was always interested in the ways individuals made sense of their identity while growing up in a bi-cultural environment. I moved to America when I was three years old, but my family still followed Indian traditions. Outside of home, I assimilated to American culture, but each culture prompted various expectations of how one should behave. These expectations did not always align, making it difficult to navigate my racial identity.

I joined Dr. Blake Silver’s research lab as the Lead Research Assistant where I was able to conduct research with peers on first-generation American college seniors. The idea of varying expectations was a prominent theme among seniors transitioning out of college. I wanted to further explore these expectations and I was grateful that Mason provided opportunities to undergraduates to pursue research. Through OSCAR I was able to obtain a research grant in which I will try to understand how racialization affects first-generation Asian-Americans’ perception of organizational commitment and identification. Racialization is the social pressure to act a certain way based on one’s race. For first-generation Asian-Americans this can be an issue as they are pinned as a model minority, meaning that even though they are recognized as a minority, they are understood to have prevailed the disadvantages that marginalized groups encounter. This perception, however, leads many people to overlook the struggles that this population faces.

First-generation Asian-Americans’ identities tend to be dual in nature, incorporating their parent’s culture and contemporary American culture. It is important that workplaces provide a safe environment where these unique identities can flourish as diversity is a growing concern in organizations. Racialization may pressure individuals to act a certain way due to their racial or ethnic identity which can affect their identity at work as well as their relationship with the organization. My goal with this OSCAR project is to collect data through a mixed methods study to understand how first-generation Asian-Americans navigate their identities in the workplace. My long-term goal is to communicate to organizations the experiences of first-generation Asian-Americans and how companies can help them better accommodate and provide a safe environment where these individuals can express their identities without being reduced to racial stereotypes. I want to expand the conversation within the inclusion and diversity sector of businesses in order to make the bond between the individual and organization stronger. As businesses become more globalized, it is important to consider the inherent complexities of ethnic communities in the workplace