Blog 2: Shang Chi and Representation in the Media

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduced the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian superhero, tearing away from the traditional clichéd depictions of Asians in the media. This breakthrough comes just a few years after the first all-Asian rom com to make it in the mainstream media, Crazy Rich Asians. Asian Americans have celebrated these new movies. I even have an Asian American friend who bought out a theater in her predominantly white hometown to share the movie with her community. Meanwhile, much of white America has reacted to this passion with head scratches, not understanding why these movies are so meaningful to the Asian community. One answer lies in a phrase that may sound overused but holds a lot of meaning: Representation matters.

Society tends to uphold a myopic view of its minority members, interpreting people through a lens of stereotypes rather than as nuanced individuals. The media traditionally perpetuates these stereotypes, for example casting East Asians most often as scientists, doctors, or kung-fu underdogs to be rescued by a white savior. Over time, these stereotypes insidiously (or, more scientifically, implicitly) shape our expectations for and perceptions of members of those groups. In class, Dr. Lee gave us this riddle to illustrate the extent to which we have internalized certain prejudices. Its very label as a riddle shows that Americans (myself included) have internalized an image or schema of surgeons as heterosexual males.

Shang Chi, however, rejected traditional stereotypes of Asians (and in fact took care to do so). Instead, this movie depicted its Asian leads as running their own story, with universally relatable characteristics and struggles, and no white savior saving the day. It was a bad-a$$ movie, with bad-a$$ characters, who kicked a$$ — and happened to be Asian. Now, children of all races have an Asian superhero to look up to along with a broader, non-clichéd view of what being Asian can look like.

Blog Post 1: Standardized tests in hiring?

As the use of standardized tests for school admissions comes increasingly under fire for discrimination (even appearing in popular press articles like this 2019 Washington Post article), research about bias in hiring decisions may suggest a utility in standardized testing for hiring. A series of studies has shown that implicit bias can play a significant role in hiring decisions. For example, we discussed the Moss-Racusin et al. (2012) paper that showed that, holding all else equal, an applicant’s gender can affect whether they’re hired for a laboratory manager position and what salary they’re offered. Gender also influenced assessments of competence, which in turn impacted those hiring decisions. A number in the form of a standardized test score, however, carries the same meaning regardless of gender, race, social status, etc. While the hirer ‘s internal biases can still color their perception of that number, the test score still serves as a means of level comparison of applicants. Furthermore, unlike admissions tests which have a whole infrastructure surrounding them offering wealthier applicants easy means of preparing for and re-taking the tests moreso than other applicants, standardized tests for hiring are typically not so ubiquitous as to offer wealthier applicants such a large advantage. So, incorporation of standardized tests into the hiring process might be a way for organizations to combat hiring discrimination.