Pioneers for Parity

May 7, 2018

The Beijing Women’s Network and Schwarzman Scholars hosted a conference celebrating and showcasing female leaders who are paving the way to parity. Women at the forefront of their industries shared stories about their journeys to the top. More:

On April 21, 2018, the women of Schwarzman Scholars hosted “Pioneers for Parity,” a one-day conference celebrating and showcasing the female leaders who are paving the way to parity. Women at the forefront of their industries shared anecdotes and advice dealing with their journeys to the top, and discussed how we can work together to create an inclusive workplace for all.

Conference speakers included leaders from the private, social, and public sectors from China and the West. Some of these speakers included President of BP China, Dr. Xiaoping Yang, China Global Television Network Anchorwoman, Tian Wei, and Minister of Culture and Education at the Beijing British Embassy, Carma Elliot CMG OBE. Over 200 individuals attended a conference filled with actionable advice, a chance to network with professional women living in Greater China, and inspiring stories at a time where women’s issues are front and center in the media.

After welcoming comments from Dean David Pan, Dr. Xiaoping Yang gave opening remarks filled with advice on how to climb the corporate ladder and strategies for succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Ms. Yang recalled three key factors in the development of her career path. First, she had the opportunity to receive a high-quality education; she obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Purdue University. The second was an investment by mentors in and outside her workplace. The final key factor was Dr. Yang’s ability to establish a unique and personal brand.

The conference continued with three panel discussions on important topics:

  • Panel 1: Paving the Way to Parity – Highlighted women in male-dominated industries, who discussed the various challenges they have faced in their careers and advice for other women seeking to break glass ceilings.
  • Panel 2: Making Inclusion Work – Discussed the best ways to create an inclusive workplace, across industries. Panelists and moderators shared what corporations and individuals can do to make inclusion work for all.
  • Panel 3: Good Community and Development – Community and development experts shared what role institutions, think tanks, grass-roots organizations and policies can play in achieving gender parity.

Discrimination and biases are pervasive across gender, age, race, culture, occupation and many more. Fundamental change must begin with education. An open dialogue among stakeholders with differing viewpoints is crucial to leading us towards greater parity. I believe that the conference has achieved this objective, and am very honored to be part of the effort.

– Vince Chan

The first panel invited industry leaders to share opportunities and challenges they have encountered in their professional journey. The panelists stressed that if women want to be prominent in the male-dominated industry, they must have an incredible amount of endurance, enthusiasm, resilience, and flexibility. The panelists reiterated the importance of mentorship and dared audience members to move through the many stereotypes and labels placed on women in male-dominated industries.

The second panel focused on how best to create an inclusive working environment in various industries. Panelists shared the roles that both organizations and individuals can play in creating workplaces where all people can success. This was followed by the third and final panel on development and governance, featured experts in the fields of development shared their experience paving the way for parity within think tanks, grassroots organizations, and policy organizations. The women discussed intersectionality and fielded audience questions on how to remedy mistakes in the workplace, how balance time between family obligations and professional ambitions, and how to deal with gender discrimination in the workplace.

The Pioneers for Parity Conference provided a unique platform bringing together business, civil society and development experts with bright, engaged, well-informed and socially aware students to discuss one of the most important issues of our time – how can we ensure that 50% of the world’s population has the same rights, access and opportunities as the other half. This is critical if we are to achieve the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that we leave no one behind.

– Dr. Roli Asthana

To close the conference, Melanie Koenderman, Associate Dean for Student Life at Schwarzman College, provided closing remarks on the impact of gender equality in her own life, and previous efforts paving the way for parity as a Canadian diplomat.

Excellent is a small word for this event. I really appreciate the efforts of organizers and thanks to participants.

– Conference Attendee

The whole conference was really inspiring; I have learned a lot. Thank you to those who arranged the event.

– Conference Attendee

Full List of Conference Speakers (in order of appearance)

  • Dr. Xiaoping Yang, the President of BP China and Chairperson of BP China Holdings Co., Ltd.
  • Tian Wei, Anchorwoman at China Global Television Network
  • Lucia Li, Partner at Bain & Company
  • Vince Chan, Co-Founder and General Partner of Ventures@TGN
  • Samantha Kwok, Founder and Diirector of JingJobs and Co-President of the Beijing Women’s Network;
  • Carma Elliot CMG OBE, China Country Director for the British Council and Minister of Culture and Education at the British Embassy in Beijing
  • Xing Zhou, PwC’s North China Market Leader and PWC’s China and Hong Kong Territory Diversity Lead
  • Philip Beck, Chairman of Dubeta PTY Co., Ltd.
  • Dr. Roli Asthana, China Head of the British Department for International Development
  • Hannah Ryder, CEO of Development Reimagined
  • Ying Xin, Head of the Beijing LGBT Center