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Asians are Good at Math. What an Awful Stereotype.

stereotype on asiansFrom Youtube videos to memes across Internet, we have heard the claim saying “Asians are good at math” a number of times. Are they? Researchers approached this Model Minority Stereotype (MMS) on Asian American Engineering students with various methods including exploring academic transcript data, surveys and interviews to find out how true this stereotype is for Asians and Asian Americans.

Not only academic success but also being hardworking, uncomplaining, extremely intelligent, seeking economic attainment and educational prestige are also 5 main facets related to MMS.  Although some students denied that the stereotype applied to them, they projected this stereotype on other Asian Americans.

Researchers found that there were no significant differences between academic record of Asian Americans and that of students from other racial/ethnic groups. For other aspects, participated students expressed full or partial acceptance of those stereotypes. While some Asian and Asian Americans think they have benefited from being Asian due to stereotypes such as assuming all Asians are intelligent, a few of them believe those stereotypes had negative impact on them. A biracial participant said

Asians are good at math. What an awful stereotype. I met a guy [whose] family had moved from <large city on west coast> to <small town in Oklahoma> and he  was Asian and absolutely awful in math—could not do it, and it was [in] good humor. That’s the stereotype: Asians are good at math. And his friends started poking fun at him, and it was something to laugh at.

This research recommended necessary actions for institutions “to address equity and parity challenges”.

Find out recommendations presented in full research of The Model Minority Stereotype’s Impact on Asian American Engineering Students from latest virtual issue of Journal of Engineering Education. This article is free until end of 2014!


  • Nina Miller

    the stereotype of all asians are good at math is negative to some, i feel very hurt and insecure when i hear people say it to others because I’m asian and I have learning issues and math is a huge part of it for me. Math is one of my hardest things.