The diversity presentation I recently went to was about the journey of Afghan refugees across the globe. The presentation was called Joël van Houdt which translates to “Where are you going”. I think that even just the title of the presentation was a powerful indicator of the struggles that many Afghan refugees have been going through since the United States military withdrew from Afghanistan. There were images of countless refugees simply searching for a place to live with no place to call home. A man spoke about how photographs of people that he took made impacts about the lives of people around him and raised awareness for the refugee situation in Afghanistan and other surrounding middle eastern countries. This brought to my attention problems that were impacting other peoples’ lives that I wasn’t totally aware of before.
Diversity and Inclusion impacts STEM a great deal, especially because STEM is a mainly male dominated field. This can be discouraging at times because of the stereotype about men being “better” than females in science and math while females are “better” at writing and literature. Being an Asian-American female on a pre-medicine track can also be discouraging at times. Although the world has come a far way in gender equality, there is still much room for improvement. The gender wage gap exists, especially in STEM fields. I remember even in my early education, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded that I wanted to be a doctor. To that, I was always met with a “how will you make time to have children?” or “have you considered being a nurse instead?”. This kind of mindset is toxic. Stereotypes and gender roles are not okay, especially in telling a child what they can or can’t do based on their race, gender, or ethnicity. The field of medicine that I aspire to go into is neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is a 90% male dominated field.
Another large stereotype that I face everyday is being an Asian-American. While it is unfortunate, it is true that being an Asian-American is one of the very first things people notice about me and remember me by.
I believe that the solution to ignorance is education. Educating people about subjects that may be “taboo”. Educating people that a person’s race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. does not change who they are fundamentally as people or their ability to perform a job. The views of the world have come a long way in the past one hundred years, however, it seems that in the past few years we have taken steps back. The United States as a country is becoming not only more and more anti-immigrant but anti-anything that is different than what is seen as someone who fits the profile of “an American living the American dream”.
The Ohio State University addresses diversity and inclusion in a very serious manner. Outward discrimination of others is prohibited. There are also countless clubs on campus dedicated to spreading the message of diversity and inclusion. In my own experience, I have seen incredible women in my own field doing amazing things which inspires me. A club called WISE (women in surgery empowerment club) has women who are in the medical field, especially surgery, talk about their experiences of getting where they are and how they have overcome challenges based on their gender. This is just one of many incredible campus resources which have helped me stay motivated in achieving my goals.