Daisy is an inspirational member of the University’s EDI community, who, in her own words “likes change, innovation and disrupting the status quo.” She currently balances her two roles at the University whilst working part-time. In MPLS, she leads a team working across all ED&I areas, aiming to develop and sustain an inclusive culture where diversity is valued and equity prevails. For the Race Equality Task Force, she is working with three co-chairs (Anne Trefethen, Martin Williams, and Patricia Daley) and Task Force members to develop a University-wide strategy and business plan to accelerate change for racial justice in the collegiate University, identifying the measures to prioritise and securing the resources needed to make tangible, meaningful advances in this area.
What Daisy enjoys most about both roles is the people: “Working with passionate, knowledgeable, and empathetic change-makers wanting to make a difference within the University excites me every day.”
Daisy has had a varied career path, working in different roles and sectors, but the common theme has been a desire to advance social justice, support marginalised communities, and make a difference in society. She describes her degree in Ethnic Studies as ‘transformative’ as it had such an influence on her life and career. Following a postgraduate Law degree, Daisy became a civil rights lawyer in San Francisco, working for non-profit legal services organisations representing primarily Asian and Pacific Islander clients. Her successes as a lawyer still stand out as career highlights for her – particularly helping women leave their abusive partners – as she was able to make a tangible impact on the lives of individuals.
Ten years ago, Daisy moved to the UK, and following a career break to look after her two young daughters, she got a job as Athena Swan Facilitator in MPLS. She expanded her role and was later promoted to ED&I Manager. In December 2020, Daisy was presented with the opportunity to work on the Race Equality Task Force as a Programme Manager. She recalls, “it was in the middle of the pandemic, and I was still home-schooling my kids – I did that for an entire year. It wasn’t the best time to take on this role, but race equality work was something that I had been wanting to focus on.”
Daisy is rightly proud of the multiple projects and initiatives she has led in MPLS, but one that stands out for her is the Beyond Boundaries project, a competition for Oxfordshire state school students to create art inspired by research from scientists of colour, which was awarded a VC Diversity Award for Promoting Awareness in 2020. Daisy brought together a number of project partners and organised competitions in 2018 and 2020, along with exhibitions in the Natural History Museum. Another competition will launch in 2023. Daisy found the project both inspiring and rewarding: “I love interdisciplinary collaborations, and creative and critical thinking that encourages us to reframe typical ways of seeing and being in the world.”
Daisy’s own life experience acts as a powerful motivator for her ED&I work. For most of her life she has been an immigrant – born in Canada, before moving to the US as a pre-teen and then to the UK later in life. “While it has been an amazing adventure, you also leave things behind – family members, friends, and networks, and a sense of security and belonging. I am drawn to EDI work because much of the time I’ve felt like an outsider looking in, not always feeling like I had a voice that was valued and listened to. Through my work and personal life, I want to help provide a space for everyone to feel good about themselves and to find their community.”
Daisy acknowledges that it can be challenging to work in her field, because “EDI can feel like it’s everywhere and nowhere. We work hard to embed EDI in everything that we do, but it can also feel like there’s no clear home for it because it touches all areas and is a more recently growing field.” She identifies three key challenges which she is working hard to address: firstly, engaging people in EDI beyond the ‘already converted’ can be difficult, but using a variety of methods to communicate with people helps to address this. Secondly, people may feel uncomfortable talking about race and ethnicity – MPLS offers anti-racist allyship sessions and there is a BIPOC STEM Network across MPLS and MSD. Thirdly, to address the emotional labour involved with advancing EDI, MPLS has a cohort of trained mental health first aiders, and is arranging clinical supervision with a trained therapist for various groups in MPLS deeply involved in EDI work.
Looking ahead, Daisy has plenty to keep her busy. The Race Equality Task Force strategy is being revised based on the consultation results, and work is underway on an action plan to implement the identified priority measures, as well as a business plan to ensure there are adequate resources to support the work. In MPLS, the Diversifying STEM Curriculum project is accepting applications from undergraduates for summer internships where they will work with MPLS academics and DPhil historians of science to develop an online repository of materials available to those teaching undergraduate courses in maths and physical sciences subjects (within Oxford and externally).
Outside of work, Daisy enjoys creating embroidery art, and some of her work is being displayed online as part of a project inviting creative responses to Covid-related racism experienced by East and Southeast Asian communities. She is also working on an anti-racist non-fiction book I AM NOT A TOURIST: British Chinese Perspectives on Race, History, and Home, centring the histories and voices of British Chinese communities. To relax, Daisy enjoys spending family time with her two daughters and husband.
Daisy is happy to connect with people via LinkedIn or Twitter