Virginia Tan on women and work in China


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What challenges do women face in the workplace in China? What fears, motivations, and priorities do women in China have, and how are they different from men’s? How can we help women to overcome barriers and achieve success in all areas of their life?

Answering and addressing these questions is the full-time work of the highly talented Virginia Tan, who has helped found three organizations that are dedicated to empowering women. These are:

  • Lean In China, a Sheryl Sandberg–inspired women’s network that now has about 120 chapters across China, and tens of thousands of members.
  • She Loves Tech, a global initiative focusing on technology by women and technology for women, which houses the world’s largest competition for women tech entrepreneurs, held across more than 10 international locations.
  • Teja Ventures, a venture capital fund targeting women-impact early-stage ventures in Asia.

Lean In China recently published a white paper titled “Women, Work and Happiness: Impact of Women in the Workplace in a Digital Age,” which used survey data to understand many key issues for women working in China.

Virginia sat down with Kaiser Kuo and David Moser on April 13 at the Yenching Global Symposium in Beijing for a live Sinica podcast, and discussed the organizations she leads and the work she is doing for women’s empowerment in China and beyond.


David: The ChinaEconTalk podcast, hosted by Jordan Schneider. Also, the Peking University campus, as it is a popular tourist attraction and has made many renovations in the lead up to the 120th anniversary of the university.

Virginia: David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell, which takes some conventional wisdom about “strength” and “weakness” and turns it on its head. Also, Yiqi, a social dating app that recently became #7 in China, which analyzes a recording of your voice to help you find a partner. Two-thirds of its users are women!

Kaiser: The Romance of the Three Kingdoms podcast, by John Zhu. John was interviewed about his project to tell the classic Three Kingdoms tale in vernacular English in this Sinica podcast last year. Kaiser just did a guest recording for Episode 150.