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WE21 Lost in Translation – Demystifying and Maximizing Asian Culture

To celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group has made their WE21 session “Lost in Translation – Demystifying and Maximizing Asian Culture” available to the general public!
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month! - Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

The 2019 U.S. Census states that the “single race” Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprised 5.7 percent of the U.S. population. “Asian Americans” is a term that combines many different groups who all come from the continent of Asia. When you look at a map of Asia, you can see that there are a total of 48 countries with over 50 distinct racial and ethnic groups who speak more than 73 different languages. With this immense diversity, it is problematic to generalize the cultural characteristics and immigrant experiences of this group. From 2000 – 2019, Asians and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders had the highest growth rate of any population group in the United States. Therefore, it is imperative that leaders and non-AAHPI workers have a better understanding of these cultural differences.

The myth of the “model minority” does not account for this diversity and propagates the false belief that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders all achieve academic and professional success. Asian Americans are the most diverse group economically in the U.S. with Asians experiencing the most income disparity of all groups. In fact, those at the top of the ladder have 8.7 times the income of those at the bottom. This disparity also permeates this group’s educational status.

Each immigrant experience is different and deserves to be examined individually instead as a conglomerate. In this webinar, four Asian American engineers discuss their career growth through the exchange of personal life stories and experiences. They share their immigrant journey, their struggles with aligning their family’s culture with American culture in the community and in business settings. 

The panelists share how imposter syndrome and perfectionism can impede career growth and recommend ways to counteract their impact. Additionally, they discuss how the cultural values that transcend many Asian cultures can become an asset that companies should leverage. 

They provide tips on how to combat bias by redirecting others to partnership and using succession planning for career growth. Additional tips include ways to convert negative stereotypes such as being too quiet or too submissive into positive qualities of being thought generators and collaborative partners.

Lastly, the panelists offer tips for allies so that they can recognize biases and redirect others to foster and build a work environment of that embraces diversity and values all contributions. The panel concludes with a summary and sharing of recommended books, articles, and webinars for additional learning. You can view the PDF version of Lost in Translation here.

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Speaker Bios:

Le Si Qu 

Le Si (LEE-see) Qu is a General Engineer for the United States Department of the Army. She was a founding member and Lead of the SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group (AG). She currently chairs the SWE Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) AGs and serves as an Advisor to the Early Career Professionals AG. Le Si is a proud first-generation college graduate and child of Chinese immigrants. She is originally from New York City, New York.

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Le Si Qu

Jennifer Chen Morikawa

Jennifer Morikawa is a senior manufacturing project engineer at General Motors. She has served in numerous SWE leadership roles including section president, Awards & Recognition Chair, region governor, and WE Local Advisory Board member. She is currently serving on SWE’s board as a director. She is a 2nd generation Taiwanese American who was born and raised in the Metro Detroit Area. She is married to a 5th gen Japanese American from Hawaii.  

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Jennifer Morikawa

Sunita Gupta Lavin 

Sunita Lavin is an Assistant Department Manager at Burns & McDonnell. She is currently the Co-Lead for the Latinos Affinity Group. Her family is from India, and she continuously strives to make the workplace a more accepting place for underrepresented groups through creation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

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Sunita Lavin

Yin Wai Vanessa Li

Vanessa is currently the SWE Membership Committee Chair-Elect and the SWE Asian Connections Affinity Group Advisor. Vanessa works in metal manufacturing industries in various roles. She is a metallurgical engineer and is currently a Program Manager with Novelis.

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Vanessa Li



2021 All Together blog on WE20 “Lost in Translation – Demystifying and Maximizing Asian Culture”: 


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