Furthermore, stereotypes around timidness, not being outspoken or politically active also mean people can make such comments with no backlash, she says.
Certainly, the idea of the “passive” Chinese is a well-known, but an increasingly misguided view – particularly given the meteoric rise of China and its achievements in women’s education.
“I like to joke that San Francisco is the epicentre of the yellow fever phenomenon”, says Debbie, who describes a general awareness of being looked at by men because she’s Chinese.
But Debbie also believes that Asian American women are paying a price for “positive” stereotyping.
Elizabeth Chan, a British Chinese actress, says acting has offered an insight into how society sees Chinese women, calling parts on offer to her “massively stereotypical”.
"It’s rare to see a Chinese character written that is ‘normal’ or ‘well rounded’," says Chan, naming a set of typical roles that include: hard-working businesswoman; exotic, gentle flower; illegal immigrant selling DVDs or turning to prostitution (someone once actually yelled “selling DVDs? In the book The Asian Mystique (2005) the author Sheridan Prasso traced the “exoticism” of East Asian women as far back as Marco Polo’s travels along the Silk Road in the 1200s, in the literature and art it inspired.
It’s as if the Chinese are so foreign it doesn't count.
In the UK, Sherry Fang, a 26-year-old British Chinese student, tells me she's had strangers say to her “you look just like his ex, she was also Chinese”, and argues it would be wholly inappropriate if she were black or Indian.
She notes the sexy Geishas, femme fatales and Kung Fu fighting seductresses in place of what she calls “ethnically neutral roles”.
In the BBC’s official response to BEA’s letter, it stated its commitments to diversity (in a rather patronising, verbose manner). But Asian women are understandably in a rush to change the status quo.
She tells me how she was instantly associated with being quiet, analytical and nice when she started working in London, and describes fighting for opportunities to speak and chair meetings.
“It took me a long time to get over that," she says.
But even at Stanford Business School, Ting feels that presumptions still linger, on a name: “I really regret not using my English name 'Jacqueline' here”, she reveals.