Fighting Gender Disparity with Tea Plays
In China, having a female CEO of childbearing age can still be the reason an investor steps back from a project.
In May, after our project won 3rd prize in the APAC finale at Harvard New Venture, I began to have more conversations with investors. I quickly began to learn how to pitch and present Tea Plays at business roadshows in China. It was not uncommon, after a thorough talk about the business plan itself, for investors to come out with 'personal questions':
"Are you married?"
"Do you plan to have children anytime soon?"
I didn't lie – although many times I felt I should have, as I perceived a negative atmosphere around the issue. Many times I walked out of the meeting room feeling helpless and offended. I'm not the only female entrepreneur feeling this way. Even with this vigorous entrepreneurial ecosystem in China, young female entrepreneurs are still at a serious disadvantage.
While China races forward economically as a whole, in some respects we are behind.
It was a great honor for me to speak on a panel at the 'Horasis Global Meeting' in Portugal last year, in discussion entitled 'Inclusiveness: Gender Equality in the Workplace.' I appeared together with Ms. Elisabeth Rehn, Minister of State of Finland and a mother of two. Other great mothers and political and business leaders coming from different cultural contexts spoke at the conference.
I was greatly inspired to see how globalized world is bringing a positive measure of equality. Equality does not necessarily mean that a woman has to always lean in and lead. It means that when she aspires to, she is given the same opportunities and respect – no less and no more.
Six months later, after countless of rounds of talks with investors, I am pregnant, and I've finally acquired my seed capital from two of those investors.
Tea Plays is a little shoot I am carefully tending; it is not only a shoot of my business commitment, but more importantly it is shoot of hope for us women entrepreneurs, having as we often do to learn by ourselves with continuous professionalism, moving from challenge to responsibility.
Tags: From Siyi