TY Chen
Diversity Statement
Inclusion, equity, and diversity are critical values and essential elements of any university’s public service mission to promote social justice. These values resonate with the philosophical belief I received from my culture since childhood, that all lives are equal. While receiving my master’s degree in education in the United States, I learned more about, and became aware of, social justice issues, which helped me in the thinking and leading of my later involvements as a human rights NPO education specialist in Cambodia, as a faculty member organizing digital divide training projects in Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, and as a planner for school STEM training in Tallahassee, Florida.
Being an international student and university employee for years, I have had my share of personal experiences about the barriers faced by minorities. Therefore, when working as an educator, I contribute to social justice in my professional capacity. For example, it has long been recognized that some students in STEM fields are culturally disadvantaged. The issue persists, though, even the need for better diversity in STEM disciplines has received great attention from the IT industry. To address such issue, I believe that we should work two fronts: one in the classrooms and the other through promoting cultural change in the local communities.
As an educator, I take an active role in bridging the gap of cultural inequity. My teaching in programming and IT management at Florida State University is a successful story for this effort. Culturally disadvantaged students are less confident with learning technical contents, which usually comes from the lack of exposure before college. These students could leave STEM programs before they realize their talent because of this cultural disadvantage. I strategically design my instruction for addressing this issue, for example: 1) discussing the diversity in backgrounds and skill levels among students; 2) presenting a fair profile of computer scientists, e.g., Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and Brian Fox; 3) encouraging collaboration and groupwork to reduce stress; 4) providing live demonstration and hands-on practice for exposure; 5) giving in-time feedback and encouragement as support. These seemingly general interventions always produce satisfactory results; and seeing the students becoming confident is rewarding.
The community front for fighting for inclusion, equity, and diversity is a long-term strategy for a needed cultural evolution. In the first year of coming to Florida State University, I joined a local NPO project called TechWISE to provide IT and coding workshops to local underprivileged communities. One good thing to mention is that we partner with the university student groups to offer the training services. To go back in time, I chaired the board of supervisors of an NPO (www.yestaiwan.org) working on bridging digital divide in aboriginal tribes in Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, including Dr. Cynthia Maung’s Mae Tao Clinic in Yangon, Burma.
As an information scientist, my current research program addresses racial and sexual stereotypes in online health information seeking in terms of the detection and reduction of social biases. I support the higher education public service mission to promote social justice by creating inclusive environment among students, faculty, and staff; and my continual devotion to inclusion, equity, and diversity will be part of this commitment.