AWE Role Models: Shan Wang

Article by Malgorzata Garstka

Role models is an ongoing series where a successful female role model is interviewed in order to inspire and motivate others who may wish to do the same.

Can you introduce yourself? Job title, education, languages, hobbies, your family etc.
Hi, I am Shan Wang, Associate Professor at Xi’an Polytechnic University. I have a Ph.D. degree in Cultural Studies and can speak English, Spanish and basic French. My hobbies include dancing and playing the piano.

Are you from Xi’an? If not, what motivated you to come here?

I was born and raised in Xi’an. I spent some time abroad studying and conducting research. Soon I will go to the diplomatic post, also abroad. I love Xi’an and will come back (smiling). My mother works as a military doctor, and my father as an economist in a state-owned company.

What do you do every day? What is your regular schedule? What is not “normal” work for you?

As a Professor in Journalism and Media Studies, I teach journalism-related courses, supervise projects of master students and help undergraduates in their projects. I follow the news, both China’s and international, including international news agencies such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera. I also watch various YouTube channels, mainstream and alternative media. All these to expand my knowledge, deepen my perspective and help me gain a comprehensive understanding of the world to broaden students’ perspectives. I write papers and applications for funding. I am responsible for five M.Sc. students, including my two M.Sc. students, whom I supervise directly.

Moreover, I review undergraduate film shootings and students’ projects of 10 undergraduates. I bring students to expat-organized activities in Xi’an, e.g., Holi or Viva Xi’an. Now and then, I hang out with friends and meet with the international community in Xi’an, and travel. Xi’an has so many colorful international activities, much more than ten years ago. The international community in Xi’an is active.

Soon, I will be going to fill a diplomatic post and I am currently preparing for it. I already got vaccinated and currently arranging the final details of starting the new role.

What are your most impressive accomplishments? What accomplishments might not impress an average person, but you are particularly proud of?

I possess extensive experience in international research. I was awarded a Chinese Government Scholarship to undertake a postdoctoral research project in Pakistan in 2018. I was a visiting scholar in Hong Kong in 2015. I spent the second year of my Ph.D. study at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Privately and professionally, I have visited more than 30 different countries worldwide.

What are the biggest challenges you face in general and as a woman? What do you think these challenges exist?

I face three types of challenges, one is profession-related, and two are gender/culture-related. The industry-related challenge is caused by the fact that people without a proper education in social science can write and publish in media and make movies. There is lower job security compared with the professions that require a lot of defined expertise, such as doctors, scientists. The gender-related challenge is caused by the fact that we, women, can have children only within a defined time, so we need to plan for them in the course of our careers. The culture-related challenge is manifested by friends, relatives, and acquaintances asking me why I am not married. I ask them back, “What is the quality of your marriage?”

What are your goals for this year? 5 years?

In one year, I would like to become familiar with the diplomatic job and witness the graduation of my first two master students. Then, in five-year time, I would like to be back in Xi’an and continue work at the university, inspiring the future generation of Chines students in media studies.

What did motivate you to choose the career that you have today?

I was interested in filmmaking and journalism. I did not want to stay in the lab the entire day (laughing).
What are the most important character traits you think someone who wants to pursue such a career should possess?
Be aware of what you are good at early. Discover your talents, stop wasting energy doing things you are not good at.
What advice do you have for other women, Chinese or foreign, who are looking to further their careers?

I have two pieces of advice:

• Financial independence is a priority. Be independent financially (e.g., own property) and be independent in what you do. Do not rely on men. Live with dignity.
• Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and fully use your strengths.

Malgorzata is a tenure track professor at the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University who leads a research team to discover and develop new methods to test and treat diabetes. She loves learning, biking, and meeting new people.