Miss Gioia

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Revolution

Today I gave a presentation at a conference in Beijing to a small specialized group of around 20-25 people. As I was speaking, I noticed that all but three of the people in my audience were female. For some perspective, it is important to note that I wasn't speaking at a knitting* conference (although I would totally do that if ever asked). That is, the subject matter at hand was not a "chick" topic. All those women, so much power, in one room. Unusual, you would say, if it weren't in fact so common.

More examples for you to consider - When I first arrived in China, I taught a class to 35 new hires in Shanghai. All but two of them were women. That's right - all but TWO. Our team in Beijing, the majority of whom I played a role in hiring, is 85% female.

It's a revolution people. Or perhaps, it is the result of a revolution - hard to say. I could (and have) think long and deeply about the factors driving this phenomenon. Perhaps the ideals of the cultural revolution forced a high degree of gender equality into a system formerly known for horrific oppression. Perhaps introduction of strict population control policies in the early eighties led familes to invest all they had into their one child - female or male. Perhaps in an educational system where you suceed by following rules, memorizing books and saying what people want you to say, females "succeed" more often than males.

The more interesting question is this - what will this mean for the future of business in China? When these women have their own babies, will that shape the way we work? Will China, out of necessity, develop a business culture that embraces a bit of flexibility? Or will these kids be raised by their grandparents, like their parents before them?

It has been so neat for me to work with these women. Every day I am astounded at how intelligent, caring and beautiful my colleagues are. When Miss G grows up, I hope she is a proud and modern daughter of China, just like those I have known in Beijing and Shanghai.

*I do know that guys knit too. My husband knits, although not very often. I am not saying NO guys knit. Just that more women knit than men, empirically speaking.



Blogger Beuk said...

i am still waiting for the photo copies of my bear patterns :)

March 25, 2007 4:14 AM  

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