Asian/Pacific Heritage Month

May 11, 2020

by Tom Costabile, P.E. ASME Executive Director/CEO

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which recognizes and celebrates people of Asian and Pacific Island ancestry in the United States. First observed as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in May 1979, this commemoration was designated to acknowledge the long history and contributions made by people of Asian/Pacific heritage in the United States. The month of May was chosen to mark the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, as well as the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants, and it was a descendant of one of these workers – a Capitol Hill staffer named Jeanie Jew – who first proposed the observance in the 1970s.

A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Discussions of Asian-Americans often overlook diversity within the Asian-American and Pacific Islander population and the challenges faced even by the most high-achieving individuals. In some key measures, Asian-Americans are the most successful demographic in the U.S.: they are more highly educated, have higher median incomes, and have outsize representation in the professional workforce. And yet, research has shown Asian-Americans are the least likely group to be promoted from individual contributor roles into management.

Among the groups working to reduce these disparities is the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), which was founded in 2007 with a goal of advancing Asian-heritage scientists and engineers in education and employment so that they can achieve their full career potential, as well as encouraging members to contribute to the enhancement of the communities in which they live.

This month, please join me in honoring the contributions and culture of our many colleagues of Asian and Pacific Island descent. Unfortunately, recent events related to COVID-19 have resulted in an uptick in discrimination and harassment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. I hope for a better day soon.

This note is part of our ongoing acknowledgement of milestones within our diverse ASME family, and serves to reinforce ASME’s commitment to promoting and advancing Diversity and Inclusion. More to come as we move forward, together.

With regards,

Thomas Costabile, P.E.
ASME Executive Director/CEO

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