Jason Wee: harnesses data to study and fight prejudice

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2020
by Sharon Adarlo

Jason Wee, 23, Class of 2020

Studies:

Wee is an undergraduate at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (WWS), where he is concentrating in the race, ethnicity, and discrimination policy track. He is also pairing his studies with the Certificate Program in Cognitive Science and the Certificate Program in Statistics and Machine Learning at the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML).

Research:

Wee's independent project for CSML (also his WWS thesis) investigates how educational institutions impact levels of prejudice among students in Malaysia. 

His research examines Malaysian schools' (pre-university) diversity programs. To do so, he is surveying hundreds of students who are about to go to college. He seeks to evaluate these students’ experience with their schools’ structural programs for diversity. He is also polling the students on their personal experience with group members who are not in their ethnic or religious group. He aims to use this data to estimate levels of prejudice and discrimination among these groups of students.

"I would ask, 'How do you feel about a group?' and also measure political attitude towards different groups," Wee said. 

For his research, he is using regression models with clustered standard errors and statistical testing to evaluate different models.

Wee said he became interested in this issue because of the unique situation of Malaysia, a diverse country with Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous groups. The country is multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural. Islam is the official religion, but the country's residents are free to practice their faith or spiritual practice, which ranges from Catholicism to Hinduism. 

"Attitudes about race and religion and prejudice are extremely important in Malaysia and can determine the political direction of the country," said Wee. 

For the data science portion of his studies, Wee said he found that his CSML classes enriched his research.

"There is a lot to learn from the intersection between quantitative work from my CSML classes with social psychology and more theoretical concepts on what educational institutes should be doing in their diversity programs," he said. 

"My CSML classes have been amazing," he continued. "All my classes have equipped me heavily with the know-how to run statistical analyses."

As for his post-graduate plans, Wee founded a few years ago a Malaysian non-profit group called Architects of Diversity, which he plans to make into a full-time endeavor once he leaves Princeton. He is currently fundraising and soliciting grants for the group. 

The group created a curriculum for Malaysian high school students to study issues involving identities and stereotypes, learn how to resolve conflicts amicably, and cultivate empathy. His CSML research work and the classes he has taken will help lay the groundwork for the group's mission and assist in measuring impact, Wee said.

Extracurricular activities:

Wee has been a member and social chair of the Princeton Debate Panel, a student specialist at the McGraw Digital Learning Lab, and a research assistant at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies and the Arab Barometer.

For fun:

Wee enjoys practicing Muay Thai and binge-watching anime shows.