An interesting article in New York magazine discusses the “bamboo ceiling” Asian-Americans face in U.S. workplaces. I think the same discussion applies to academic hotshots of any color. This is a pretty accurate explanation of why I chose to get an MBA instead of furthering my technical skills with a science degree.
“In order to succeed, you have to understand which rules you’re supposed to break. If you break the wrong rules, you’re finished. And so the easiest thing to do is follow all the rules. But then you consign yourself to a lower status. The real trick is understanding what rules are not meant for you.”
An important point is that while lower-level jobs tend to be fairly meritocratic, many other factors start entering the picture as you rise into management – IQ becomes less relevant and EQ becomes essential. But, paying attention in school and doing what you’re told won’t prepare you for this, especially if you aren’t raised in an environment that emphasizes leadership and assertiveness.