Asian Heritage Month: Becky Lin

May 16, 2022

I joined SFU in the summer of 2021 as a lecturer in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. I love to teach, and I also love to learn more about my subject. Teaching statistical science at SFU offers me this combination of opportunities. Being an instructor, I firmly believe that each student has a seed of ability, and my goal is to discover and nurture these seeds that will grow and shape our future.

What inspired you to choose science as a career?

I believe that my passion for science came almost purely through the fun time I had with my father at an early age and my learning experiences in school. When I was a little kid, my father introduced mathematics to me by solving fun puzzles with me. Soon after in elementary school, I had an amazing math teacher who further confirmed my interest in math. Later in high school, I got so fascinated with programming because it is based on logic and logical concepts that come from maths. In university, I took my interest forward by finishing a degree in computing science, and further completed my master’s and doctorate degrees in statistics because it is a combination of my fondness for math and programming.

What do you love most about your work? What are you most proud of?

The thing I like most about my work is my students. I love interacting with them. I love learning from them as much as they learn from me. I love helping them understand the content of statistics and arming them with the most important data analyzing skills in this digitalized age. I get excited when students make improvements or when they are able to struggle through to mastery. Helping them to learn well and discover their strengths is extremely rewarding for me. I am proud of any achievement made by my students.

What kinds of barriers have you faced in your work or studies?

Looking back on my studies, I learned that men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEM fields in most universities. I had my undergraduate study in China, and there were only a few female students in the computing science program. There are a variety of obstacles faced by female students, including sociocultural expectations, and family and financial issues, and this gender disparity seems more severe in most Asian countries. The barrier in work I have is research funding. I believe that funding and teaching are intimately intertwined, as they inform and complement each other. But I find that teaching faculty members at SFU have very limited sources of funding that they could apply for. 

Are the barriers higher for Asian scientists?

It can seem higher sometimes, but only because the hierarchy and social norms were established a long time ago before we became aware of the strength of diversity. It is slowly improving as we speak.

What suggestions do you have for how to make the Faculty of Science a more welcoming space?

A welcoming space should start with understanding cultural differences. Instead of making quick judgments, we should first listen and do the research ourselves, then try our best to understand diverse points of view. Understanding with empathy goes a long way.

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