Overlooked and Unheard: A National Study of AAPI Girls’ Leadership

What if the voices of AAPI girls were heard and their leadership fully realized?

Girls Leadership is embarking on a two-year study to learn how ethnicity and culture impact the leadership development of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls. This study will be co-led by Girls Leadership and a girls’ research council made up of youth who identify as AAPI and female or gender-expansive.

The goal of this study is to understand the wide-ranging definitions and understandings of leadership within the diverse communities of AAPI youth, as well as the external leadership supports and barriers, so that teachers, schools, and community-based organizations can create greater equity in the leadership development of all girls.

The application for the Youth Research Council is closed. Applications are under review.



We are inviting organizations and schools that work directly with and alongside AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth to join a national, two-year research study to learn how they define leadership through a youth participatory action research (YPAR) approach.

Community-based organizations and schools are invited to join our work through these various opportunities:

  • Support {survey outreach and distribution, language translation, marketing}
  • Recruit {study participants, participants for national community meetings}
  • Test {data collection tools, research design and instrumentation}
  • Attend {regional and national community meetings, solution building}
  • Participate {informational interviews, focus groups}
  • Connect {grassroots groups, girls, families/parents, networks}
  • Share {findings, feedback}

Ready to join us? Sign up here.

If you have questions, please contact Evaluation Studio’s Community & Partnerships Research Associate Shwetha Sridharan (shwetha@evaluationstudio.org)

Read our community partner letter.


Learn More

Are you a girl, teacher, parent, or program staff who would like to learn more? Please complete this form to receive updates and more details.

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Interested in sponsoring? Check out our sponsorship deck and contact Senior Development Director Catherine Stahl for more information.

Donate now to contribute to this project.

Advisory Board

Research Cabinet

This study will explore:

  • How ethnicity and culture impact girls’ definition of leadership, their leadership identity, and skill development
  • How leadership definition is impacted by intersections of family structure, income level, education level, language spoken at home, geography, immigration status, and generational status
  • How parents and caregivers define leadership and identify as leaders
  • How teachers perceive supports and barriers to leadership for AAPI girls

Why is this research important?

With the model minority myth, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are often unseen and unheard. But they’re the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., accounting for 7.7% of the nation’s total population at 24 million in 2020 — nearly double that of 2000’s AAPI population of 12.7 million.

Yet very little data exists on this disparate group that hails from more than 50 origin countries and speaks 100+ languages. And while there is some data on the general AAPI population, no research exists on AAPI girls.

Why now? 

In mainstream media and news, AAPI experiences — especially those of AAPI girls and women — are often erased, tokenized, fetishized, stereotyped, or overlooked. Asian American women reported anti-Asian violence and discrimination during the pandemic at 2.2 times the rate of Asian American men, and Pacific Islander women also reported high rates of discrimination

The economic impact of COVID further amplified the income disparity, disproportionately harming the lowest income groups, including Hmong, Cambodian, Burmese, and Pacific Islander communities.

The time to tell the story of our AAPI girls is long overdue.

About our research firm:

Evaluation Studio is an innovative and community-centered research and evaluation firm. Our model is more than just research; it’s about transforming knowledge creation by centering the experiences and voices of the communities we serve. We are a women-led organization grounded in helping girl- and BIPOC- serving youth development nonprofits craft the data-driven narratives they need. We are grounded in an integrated approach of using traditional and liberatory research methods. Our iterative process of discovery, discussion, and design help clients refine their data and knowledge creation processes to empower their stories of impact.

  1. Leah

    Hi, when will we hear back about the applications?

    • Dorothy Ponton, Digital Marketing Manager

      We are currently still reviewing applications, and will share an update for all applicants this week. We expect to share interview candidate status in early July.

  2. Sadia

    Is there a payment?

    • Dorothy Ponton, Digital Marketing Manager

      Hi Sadia, applications for our paid Youth Research Council are now closed. May I help you with any other questions?


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