Technology has made Chinese women feel more empowered than ever before, a recent survey by marketing company J. Walter Thompson has shown. The survey stated that 92% of Chinese women believe that technology has made them stronger and that social media has given them a voice.
Women’s rising financial independence, and their greater control over the household wealth has also ushered in China’s thriving she-economy. Thousands of e-commerce businesses now cater to their every consumerist whim, and more and more startups are satisfying their needs for culture, entertainment, health, education, and travel.
But despite the fact that women feel more than comfortable in the new tech era, they seem reluctant to become players behind the scene.
“There is a huge gap between the booming tech industry and women entrepreneurs in China,” said Ling Zihan, founder of China’s first technology incubator for women, Techbase. According to Ling, women make up only 10% of leaders in this industry. “Internet and technology will dominate the whole economy in the next 10 years and women should not be left behind”.
While some have argued that there are fewer women entrepreneurs because they are less inclined to take risks, many female startup founders have spoken up about how they feel underestimated and have missed out on financing opportunities because of their gender. This is a point of view confirmed by the survey. According to the data, 63% of women in China felt that they had been held back professionally, versus 44% globally; 55% of women in China say they experience sexism at work regularly, versus 40% globally and 41% of women in China say that they feel their boss talks down to them because they are women, versus 35% globally.
One of the more revealing sets of data is about role models: 89% of Chinese women said they wish they had seen more female role models growing up, versus 74% globally. A recent report by LinkedIn has shown that women in China occupy 51 of 100 senior positions among people below age 35. However, that number decreases with age, becoming only about 1 out of 10 after age 45. Comparing the data, it is not surprising that Chinese women find it hard to find professional role models. For most people, their 30s are a time when they focus on earning promotions or starting their own projects, but many Chinese women at that age face pressure to commit to their family.
“The most common struggle is that of work-life balance,” Ling confirmed. “How to use the very limited time for so much going on both at home and at the business battlefield.”
Ling wants to help women-led startups find success, but the battle has to be fought on multiple fronts. One of the more important ones is helping men achieve equality for themselves. As Hubert Lin, a Chinese speech coach and IT manager, wrote, men are repeatedly told that they should strive for money, power, and status. They are considered “less of a man” if they fail to achieve that, even though they might be good fathers and husbands. But if women can have it all – family, career, and friends – then so can men.
(Top photo from Pexels)