Elle’s #MoreWomen campaign has captured a great deal of attention across the world with regard to the underrepresentation of women in leading positions. Though it wasn’t shared in the viral video, the situation in the tech world is hardly better than what is common in other industries — perhaps even worse.
Only 30% of those working in the U.S tech industry are women, although women make up 59% of the workforce, CNET reported in May.
China is not the same boy’s club as Silicon Valley. More women are taking on leadership roles here.
AllChinaTech picks five of the most influential female leaders in China’s tech industry to inspire young tech workers in the field.
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Liu Qing topped Fortune China’s “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders for 2015” together with her business partner Cheng Wei, the CEO and founder of Didi Kuaidi. Before joining Didi, Liu was Managing Director at Goldman Sachs Asia; Liu was also one of the youngest managing directors in Goldman Sachs’ history.
Her expertise in the financial sector contributed a lot to Didi’s fast development in China’s fierce ride-hailing market. Liu helped Didi to raise its USD 700 million F-series funding in three weeks and finalized negotiations for the Didi Dache – Kuaidi Dache merger in just 22 days, creating one of the biggest companies in China’s tech industry.
Though Liu is also well-known as the daughter of Liu Chuanzhi, founder of China’s PC giant Lenovo, she is highly regarded for her diligence and ability in the industry. Liu was diagnosed with breast cancer in September but has remained as president of Didi Kuaidi post-surgery.
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Zhou Qunfei is a typical example of a rags-to-riches story. Zhou came from a small village in the mountain area of China’s Hunan province and had to quit school when she was 15 because of poverty. After dropping out of school she went to Shenzhen to look for labor work in factories, where she later founded her own company, Lens Technology, in 1993.
Lens Technology landed on China’s second board in March 2015 hitting surge limits for ten consecutive days and pushing Zhou to the top of the 2015 Hurun Richest Women in China list with RMB 50 billion (USD 8 billion). Lens Technology produces touch-panels for leading smartphone manufacturers including Apple, Samsung and LG.
According to the New York Times, Zhou is also the richest self-made woman in the world.
CEO of Ant Financial
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Peng Lei is counted among the first 18 employees of the now renowned Alibaba Group. She joined the company in 2001 to follow her husband, Sun Tongyun, the former president of Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao.
Peng is well-known for her assertiveness and decisiveness. People used to joke about Peng’s appearance because of her resemblance to Jack Ma. She once responded to a post on Alibaba’s internal network that “whether I’m beautiful or not is none of anybody else’s damn business.”
Peng was once regarded as the most likely successor to Jack Ma when he resigned from his position as CEO of Alibaba in 2013. Peng is now the CEO of Ant Financial, in charge of some of Alibaba’s most important assets including Alipay. Valuation of Ant Financial has now surged to USD 50 billion.
Chairwoman and President
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Dong Mingzhu ranks second on Forbes’ 100 Chinese Business Women list. She joined Gree in the late 1990s as a salesperson when she was already 36 and widowed as a single mom. Dong fought all the way up to the top position over the next 15 years. While she was still on the sales team, she once set a sales record for RMB 36.5 million (USD 5.8 million).
Dong is also known for her toughness. “No grass grows where Dong walks past,” people in the manufacturing sector typically say.
Dong made a one-billion-RMB bet with Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun in 2013 over whether Xiaomi would surpass Gree in revenue in the next five years. Gree achieved a revenue of RMB 140 billion for 2014 while Xiaomi made RMB 74.3 billion.
Dong is seen as a symbol of China’s traditional manufacturing industry. Both her aggressive style and her strong belief in traditional manufacturing stand out in China’s frothy Internet age.
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Sun Yafang joined Huawei in 1989 as an engineer and has been working as Huawei’s chairwoman since 1999. Rumor has it that Sun helped Huawei raise vital funding through her contacts in its early years, when she wasn’t even working directly with Huawei.
Sun was in charge of Huawei’s marketing department and established Huawei’s human resources system. Huawei’s marketing department under Sun was regarded as the best example of Huawei’s famous ‘Wolf Culture’.
Though Sun frequently represents Huawei on public occasions, she is likely one of the most mysterious business leaders in China. Most coverage about Sun is based on quotes from Huawei staff. Sun however is one of the few people in Huawei, that hold as much power as Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.
Led by Sun, Huawei’s communications business has achieved revenue of RMB 288.2 billion (USD 45.7 billion) with a net profit of RMB 27.9 billion (USD 4.4 billion). At the age of 60, Sun is still one of the most impactful women in China’s business world, as one of only two heads of the fast advancing tech giant that is Huawei.