Fri, 07/07/2023 - Author: emanders

Examining the Contributions and Experiences of Asian Women Faculty in STEM at Iowa State University


A Project Update from Mansi Patel

Up to this point: Diversity, equity, and inclusion have long been focal points of concern and research within STEM fields. As a student immersed in a STEM-oriented program, I recognized the significance of researching deeper into the experiences and contributions of female faculty members on our campus. Considering this, I took the Tracing Race project's opportunity to put up an idea: to interview and learn more about the Asian women faculty members at Iowa State University in order to reveal their vital contributions to the field of STEM.

The main goal of this initiative is to recognize and honor the outstanding achievements of Asian women faculty members across several STEM disciplines at ISU. I sought to talk with them about their work, successes, and the circumstances that have formed their paths to date through a series of interviews. As the project progressed, I conducted a total of five interviews with faculty members from diverse academic disciplines, allowing for a broader representation of experiences and perspectives. To initiate the interview process, I reached out to Asian female faculty members at ISU through email invitations, requesting their participation in the project. As the summer break reached its midpoint, I successfully conducted and recorded these interviews, capturing insightful conversations that examined into the challenges, triumphs, and distinctive viewpoints of these individuals within the STEM fields at our university.

I have come across several intriguing projects during these interviews that are either currently being conducted or have been successfully completed by our faculty members. These projects showcase the diverse and innovative research taking place within our institution. One such example was during Dr. Heath’s interview, from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal biology. She shared a fascinating project that she and her colleagues have recently completed. Their research paper focused on discovering the largest species of penguin, which astonishingly weighs a whopping 350 pounds. This incredible penguin has earned the nickname "Monster Bird," as highlighted in an article by the renowned New York Times. It is truly remarkable to see Dr. Heath and her team's work being recognized and featured in NYT.

A skeletal sketch comparing three types of penguins
A skeletal sketch comparing three types of penguins
Article cover image for a New York Times article about the biggest penguin that ever existed
Article cover image for a New York Times article about the biggest penguin that ever existed

At present, I am actively working to secure additional interviews with more faculty members over the next few days. This will make it possible for us to collect a larger volume of content for the digital platform. I undertook significant research into the academic backgrounds and research accomplishments of the faculty members in addition to the interviews to broaden the project's breadth and depth.

Updates to the project: While the project's overarching goal remains unchanged, there have been notable updates and refinements. Originally, there was a plan to gather quantitative data through surveys and archival research to assess the representation of Asian women faculty members at ISU. However, during the initial stages of the project, it became evident that managing multiple elements simultaneously might undermine the project's focus and impact. Consequently, a decision was made to maintain a qualitative approach, emphasizing storytelling through interviews, and creating dedicated information sections for each faculty member on the digital platform.

Moving forward: The project will eventually consist of two primary parts. First and foremost, careful work is being done to polish the interview transcripts and edit the video recordings in preparation for future internet publishing. Secondly, the website itself, developed using WordPress, is in the process of finalizing the theme, layout, and overall design. The gathered content is presently being ready for the last stage of uploading to the website.

In conclusion, this project sheds light on the experiences and contributions of Asian women faculty members in STEM at Iowa State University. Through interviews and a digital platform, we highlight their unique perspectives, triumphs, and challenges. As work continues on refining the transcripts and preparing the website, I anticipate sharing the inspiring stories of these extraordinary individuals, creating a lasting impact within our academic community and beyond.