The Not Underrepresented Minorities: Asian Americans, Diversity, and Admissions

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6 Scopus citations


Several lawsuits have recently been filed against U.S. universities; the plaintiffs contend that considerations of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions discriminate against Asian Americans. In prior cases brought by non-Latino whites, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these considerations, arguing that they are crucial to a compelling interest to increase diversity. The dissenting opinion, however, concerns the possibility that such policies disadvantage Asian Americans, who are considered overrepresented in higher education. Here, the authors explain how a decision favoring the plaintiffs would affect U.S. medical schools. First, eliminating race and ethnicity in holistic review would undermine efforts to diversify the physician workforce. Second, the restrictions on considering race/ethnicity in admissions decisions would not remedy potential discrimination against Asian Americans that arise from implicit biases. Third, such restrictions would exacerbate the difficulty of addressing the diversity of experiences within Asian American subgroups, including recognizing those who are underrepresented in medicine. The authors propose that medical schools engage Asian Americans in diversity and inclusion efforts and recommend the following strategies: incorporate health equity into the institutional mission and admissions policies, disaggregate data to identify underrepresented Asian subgroups, include Asian Americans in diversity committees and support faculty who make diversity work part of their academic portfolio, and enhance the Asian American faculty pipeline through support and mentorship of students. Asian Americans will soon comprise one-fifth of the U.S. physician workforce and should be welcomed as part of the solution to advancing diversity and inclusion in medicine, not cast as the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-189
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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