In light of the increase in violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the Society of Women Engineers‘ Asian Connections Affinity Group (ACAG) has made their WE20 session “Lost In Translation – Demystifying and Maximizing Asian Culture” available to the general public. The ACAG aims to help the AAPI community maximize their Asian culture in both academic and professional settings and to provide resources for allies who want to support the AAPI community.
While race and ethnicity can be challenging discussion topics, awareness is the first step to dispel misconceptions and ignite change. A survey showed that 48.8% of AAPI individuals earned at least a bachelor degree compared to the national number of 27.7%. AAPI individuals also occupy more white-collar jobs, earning a higher median household income and having a lower unemployment rate. AAPI individuals comprise 12% of the professional workforce whilst being only 5.6% of the U.S. population, and yet studies show that they are the least likely group to be promoted to executive positions. On the one hand, stereotypes praise the AAPI community for their values of hard work, discipline, and intelligence, but on the other, the same community is often seen as quiet, reserved and submissive – qualities that do not fit the typical western C-suite-executive. The term ‘bamboo ceiling’ has often been used to describe this problem in the over 50 AAPI ethnic groups.
AAPI individuals experience cultural bias and stereotypes that can be both career enhancers and derailers. This presentation will help attendees maximize their Asian culture, propelling career growth for the AAPI community and demystifying aspects of Asian culture for those who would like to become allies. It also identifies characteristics that can negatively impact careers and describes techniques to overcome them. This is an opportunity for those who are curious about the impact of the cultural bias that AAPI individuals face while exploring ways to advocate as an ally. The panelists shared stories about their family upbringing, names that represent their identities, classroom vs. workplace expectations, how to balance listening and idea sharing, misconceptions of STEM skills, and the importance of providing feedback as an ally.
Tuyet-Hanh Schnell, Lead Systems Engineer, Lockheed-Martin
- Hanh is an Asian American immigrant with a diverse engineering background in HW, SW, FW and SE. She managed multi-million-dollar projects and led both functional and project teams. She is a certified Lean Six-Sigma Green Belt, Agile Coach, Women’s ERG Co-Chair and SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group Empowerment Co-lead.
Vanessa Li, Process Leader, Novelis
- As the only female engineer and Asian employee, Vanessa navigated her career from a quality engineer, to a crew supervisor and now a process leader in manufacturing. Vanessa is a metallurgical engineer, MBA, Women in Novelis (WiN) ERG site-champion and SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group Conference Lead.
Khánh Vũ, CEO & Executive Director, SASE
- Khánh joined SASE in 2010 and became the CEO & Executive Director in 2011. Khánh has a chemical engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines. Previously, he was the Director of the Multicultural Engineering Program. He also founded the Asian Student Association at Mines, which eventually merged with SASE.
Le Si Qu, Asian Connections Affinity Group Co-lead, SWE
- Le Si (LEE-see) Qu is the founding Co-Lead and FY21 Lead of the SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group. She is a collegiate leader at Stony Brook University, where she has served as a peer mentor, President of the Robotics Team, Chairperson of the AIAA Student Branch, and AIAA Diversity Scholar.
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