Asian OCAD student’s mock resumé forces others ‘to see who I am’

April 27, 2017

Toronto Star | Nicholas Keung

Stein Wang has a resumé that cannot be overlooked.

Part irony and part political statement against employers’ hesitance to interview and hire candidates with Asian names, the OCAD University industrial design graduate has created a resumé that confronts hiring managers’ biases against jobseekers with non-Anglicized names.

To be able to read Wang’s curriculum vitae, viewers must stretch their eyes outward with their hands in order to be able to recognize the letters in a font that he developed that can only be properly viewed through what he calls the “slanty eyes” that most Asians have.

“People cast others based on stereotypes and biases. Employers look past you by your name and don’t really see who you are,” said Wang, 27, referring to recent Canadian studies that found recruiters are less likely to offer job interviews to applicants with Asian names. “Now, they have to make an effort to see who I am.”

The mock resumé created by Wang, whose Chinese name is Zhenyu, is his graduation assignment — and part of Canada’s arts and design university’s annual Graduate Exhibition that will showcase the talents of its more than 900 graduating students.
This year’s show runs from May 3 to 7 across the three buildings on its downtown campus. Admission is free. Many of the pieces in the exhibit showcase the cultural diversity and experiences of the graduating class.

“Increasingly, from the public sector to large corporations, leaders are turning to artists and designers to explore the human interface of their products and services and solve problems,” said Sara Diamond, OCAD’s president and vice-chancellor.

“I’m so proud to show Toronto the accomplishments of this group of talented creative thinkers who have grown and flourished with the support of the university’s faculty and academic staff, experts in their respective fields.”

Wang, who came to Canada from China in 2009, said he was initially interested in exploring transnational parenting and intergenerational child care for his final project, given his personal experience as someone born in New York and raised by his grandparents in China before moving to Canada.

However, the potential delays in getting consent from young subjects drove him to focus on employment barriers faced by adult immigrants. Then he came across the media reports on academic studies about how job candidates with Asian names had much lower interview callback rates than others with Anglo names.

With the idea of creating a resumé as his centrepiece conceived, Wang happened to read a story about how an Asian man in Australia had his passport photo rejected because facial recognition software insisted his eyes were closed and it didn’t meet the criteria.

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