When looking at an Asian-American woman, certain implicit biases exist. They are often judged as being too meek, timid, or passive to achieve their goals. They may be held back by such an evaluation, preventing them from realizing their full potential.
It was difficult for Asian-American lawyer Debra Wong Yang to speak up throughout her early career. In the long run, she realized that her inability to stand up for herself did not only hurt her but also her clients.
“Eventually, we all find a voice — my advice is to just make sure the one you ultimately adopt is actually yours,” she advised in her essay published by Law360.
Yang graduated from law school in 1985 when women were still relatively powerless in the legal field. Since she was still working toward the goal of following the path she had chosen, she has faced many challenges along her journey. She has witnessed it all, from the very traditional Chinese upbringing she received to the various sacrifices, frustrations, and challenges she must face on a day-to-day basis in her chosen field.
After years of practicing law and facing challenges in the courtroom, she came to a number of important realizations that helped her become a successful attorney. She remembered when she thought up some strategies that she hoped would assist her in communicating effectively with others.
Yang also tried to conquer her fear, and her motivation helped her cope with the situation and make further progress. With a lot of the many books she has read on leadership, she knows she has finally found her own approach to developing herself.
She aspires on detailing how she was preparing for her court session with an outline of her questions and concerns, and other litigants will be able to better manage their time with counsel. She realized she was getting better at defending her clients in court because she was able to keep her attention solely on the issues and evidence in her case.
When she was currently going through a period of learning and challenges, she learned that holding a position of authority does not guarantee respect from subordinates. She came to understand that one of the responsibilities of a leader is to address concerns raised by those who doubt one’s abilities.
In her courtroom sessions, Yang strongly suggests analyzing the situation first and looking for authentic solutions carefully. She strongly believed that the solutions to some problems sometimes are not immediately obvious and have never been tried before, or that it’s extremely straightforward. However, she is challenged to keep turning the issue over and over in her mind until she begins to see it from a new perspective.
Yang also stressed the importance of having mentors to turn to for advice and insight. She was assertive in her belief that one should be guided by the process of sitting down, thinking it through, and acting in a way that is most beneficial to them. She went on to say that if the message comes from within, the receiver will perceive it as more genuine and at ease.
In 2002, She was appointed by President George W. Bush as United States Attorney and became a former judge serving the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The fact that her success can be attributed to her strong leadership and the bravery that she possesses as an individual is a reason why she wields her power.
Not only does Yang share her own experiences, but she also provides valuable advice that other women can use to advance their careers. She stated, “My wish for each of you is that you will be brave when facing self-doubts, challenges, and obstacles. That you will dig deep, reach out if needed, do the research, make the tough decision and not be afraid of losing.”
The fact that Yang, an Asian American woman-in-law, was able to take control of her power demonstrates that one’s race should not determine the opportunities available to them or the path they choose to take in their professional advancement. However, by maintaining a positive attitude and giving oneself the power to make decisions, one will be able to live up to the standards and goals that have been established to assist in one’s own success.