Announcing Lean In China’s New White Paper


IPWS has a unique partnership with Lean In China for we both aim to empower women through our communities and offer personal & professional development opportunities in various ways. It’s our great pleasure to announce their first nationwide survey results are out in a new White Paper from Lean In China, available below in Chinese and English.

After Facebook COO’s Sheryl Sandberg famously encouraged women to “lean in” and actively pursue their goals in her book from 2013, Lean In China launched with their core values of “Sisters, Mentors, Leaders”. Lean In China follows these values throughtheir active Lean In communities across China and creating a culture of peer support, mentorship and leadership. By also empowering women leaders to not only achieve, Lean In China also encourages these leaders to aspire to greater heights. Since its founding, women in 25 Chinese cities and 50 universities have united to create Lean In communities encouraging each other to sit at the table and lean in.

In March 2016, Lean In China launched a nationwide survey titled “Women, Work and Happiness”, with the following objectives:

  • Obtain information about the roles that women play in the home and workplace in China
  • Understand the goals and needs that these women have and the challenges that they face, both at work and in society
  • Identify resources that can better help women in China to achieve their goals and overcome challenges
  • Continue to grow the Lean In China platform and incubate Lean In communities that can better serve the needs of Chinese women

The White Paper seeks to use the data collected from the survey to provide recommendations on advancing gender equality in the home and workplace based on a deeper understanding and analysis of the unique priorities, needs and challenges that women in China face as they progress in their careers and lives.

You can read the White Paper “Women, Work & Happiness” in Chinese: Lean In China Final White Paper Chinese and English: Lean In China Final White Paper English.

For a quick look, here are some of the overall ideas coming from the White Paper, as outlined in the Executive Summary:

  • The majority of women desire more women in leadership positions in society, and younger generations of women are more likely to feel the need for this, showing how changing social attitudes in China are propelling the “lean in” effect.
  • Women generally do not aspire to conventional measures of success – money, power and fame. The majority of women define success as health, family and happiness. This suggests, to some extent, that the gender gap in the workplace, especially at the levels of senior leadership, can be attributed to the fact that the majority of women intrinsically value professional achievements less than other aspects of their life.
  • The majority of women want both career and family. However, age, marriage and having children change the way a woman pursues her career – women start to value flexibility and stability as opposed to challenging and interesting work after marriage and having children, and this contrasts with the demands of the job market which rewards those who take on increasing responsibility and challenges.
  • When asked about key challenges faced in the workplace, the top three reasons cited by women were linked to balancing work with family obligations, ranked significantly higher than direct obstacles arising out of the workplace such as discrimination, the lack of promotion opportunities or mentorship, or the lack of confidence or ability.
  • Even though the majority of women think that child-rearing responsibilities should be equally shared among both parents, the amount of unpaid work women do per day increases significantly after marriage and particularly after having children. The need to support their partner’s career is also cited as a significant challenge in respect of a women’s professional advancement. For women to “lean in” at work, especially once they have had children, they require support from their partners at home in terms of doing household responsibilities and child-rearing.

The White Paper covers the objectives very well and moving forward on these findings, Lean In China concludes that greater support from the male population and more companies will further women’s advancement in the workplace. Institutions across China, as well as individuals, becoming active partners on work-related challenges for women will help close the gender gap. The ‘He for She’ initiative, a United Nations global approach, will be adapted by Lean In China with a local launch for “He for She” campaign in December 2016 in order to encourage more men to participate in the promotion of women’s personal and professional development.

Moving forward, Lean In China realises the need for greater engagement with, and more active participation of men in the Lean In China initiatives, and will be turning focus to be inclusive in 2017. IPWS looks forward to the next 12 months as we strengthen our partnership with IPWS on promoting the themes of mutual support, mentorship and leadership for women, along with the ‘He for She’ strategy.

The White Paper “Women, Work and Happiness” really is new research in this area and we’d like to thank Virgi from Lean In China for making these papers available to us and the IPWS Community. Congratulations and we look forward to our continued partnership!