Author Dismantles “Model Minority” Myth To Help Asian Women Leaders Find Confidence

By Sheena Yap Chan

A report from Catalyst Inc. mentioned that Asian women only represented 2.7% percent in management roles in the US in 2021. After reading this statistic, I wondered why Asian women had one of the lowest rates in leadership roles which led me to write my upcoming book with Wiley called The Tao of Self-Confidence: A Guide to Moving Beyond Trauma and Awakening the Leader Within.

Since 2015, it has been my mission to elevate the voices of Asian women. It started with my podcast, The Tao of Self-Confidence where I have interviewed over 700 Asian women from around the world about their inner journey to self-confidence. I realized that if I wanted the representation I craved, it had to start with myself.

One of the main reasons why I started this mission was due to my upbringing. Growing up in Toronto in the 90s, I never saw anybody in the media that looked like me. I was ashamed of my own culture and yearned to have blonde hair, blue eyes and change my name to Heather just to feel accepted in Western culture. In my 20s, I started embracing my culture when I decided to dye my hair back from blonde to my original hair color.  

After this realization, I never wanted our current and future generations to go through what I went through as a child. I wanted to highlight role models that looked like me and help them realize their potential beyond the cultural norms that we still go through today.

And when I was approached by the publisher to write this book, I actually had my moments of imposter syndrome. I thought to myself:

“Who am I to write a book about leadership?”

Instead of stopping myself, I realized I had to write this book so that Asian women can feel VISIBLE! For years, Asian women have been in the background and have never made any noise. Because of it, we are rarely seen in leadership roles and have become an easy target for anti-Asian hate crimes. Staying invisible doesn’t help us at all.

This upcoming book is a different approach to leadership. As I was checking out other leadership books, I realized something was missing. It’s great that we have books that teach you how to be a leader but there weren’t any books that really got down to the root cause of what is holding us back from becoming the best leader we can be.

We all go through some form of trauma. Some of us are aware of it and some of us are unaware of it. If we don’t do the work to figure out the traumas that hold us back, then we cannot show up as the best leader we can be. Asian culture is known for hiding secrets and keeping skeletons in the closet and because of it, our community faces so many mental health issues.

Not only do we carry our own traumas, we also carry the traumas of our parents, grandparents and so on. Intergenerational trauma can go as deep as 4 generations but I believe for Asian women, it goes way deeper since we have had a long history of being treated as second class to men.

So yes, this book does dive into trauma, the model minority myth and the many issues Asian women face which is rarely talked about.  It’s important to bring up these issues so we can find ways to heal or solve this problem. My hope for this book is that Asian women can be seen as leaders in their own right and dismantle the negative stereotypes we still face today.

May is AAPI Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness. One of the things I am currently doing is fundraising for a Library Donation Drive so that this book gets donated to libraries across the US.  Libraries are heavily underfunded and rarely have books from diverse authors. Being able to have this book in libraries means people in underserved communities can have free access to this book.

Let’s keep on showing up, speaking up and bossing up. With the recent wins of Everything Everywhere All At Once, we must keep the conversation going for better representation. It’s amazing to see Michelle Yeoh break barriers and make history in Hollywood but that’s only one industry. We have so many industries that are still underrepresented.   

It’s our time to be seen as leaders, let’s make it happen.

Sheena Yap Chan is a keynote speaker, podcaster, consultant, and author on building self-confidence. She currently inspires women through her award-winning podcast called The Tao of Self-Confidence where she interviews Asian women about their inner journey to self-confidence. Her mission is to help Asian Women boost their confidence to live their authentic selves, help Asian Women create a voice in the world, and create a stronger representation for Asian women. Sheena has been featured on MindValley,, Marketing in Asia, Manila Times and more. She is also the TOP 100 Filipinos to follow on LinkedIn for inspiration and learning in 2021. She is also the co-author of the International bestselling book Asian Women Who Boss Up.  Sheena is also releasing a book with Wiley called ‘The Tao of Self-Confidence’ which you can pre-order here.

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