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Monday, March 8, 2021

From the President: May Women Shine Eternally on a Larger Stage

Experience CEIBS' "She Power"

Dear CEIBS Alumni,

As beautiful green scenery greets the eye and sweet scent of blossoms fill the air, the 111th International Women’s Day has brought to us the promise of spring. On this happy occasion, on behalf of CEIBS, I would like to extend my sincere greetings to all our female alumni!

It gives me great honour to be the first female president in CEIBS’ history, and I am glad to share with you my thoughts on women’s development here. My 30-year teaching career and 10-year period as a local government official have instilled in me the belief that women and men both have their advantages, and that women can exert the same influence as men as long as they lean in to realise their potential. Nowadays, an increasing number of women no longer play a role only as housewives. Instead, they have carved out a niche of their own in areas once dominated by men. With wisdom, diligence and dedication, women have shown us how valuable, diversified and unique one’s life can be, and they have made substantial contributions to social progress.

I feel proud to work with CEIBS, a business school which has risen to the world’s top tier in just over 25 years, is committed to advancing social progress, and has worked to cultivate more female managers and steer more women to a larger stage. From 1994 to 2020, the proportion of full-time female faculty at CEIBS increased roughly 29%. Over the years, female faculty, such as Prof. Katherine Xin, Prof. Jean Lee and Prof. Han Jian, have delved into their respective areas of research and invested enormous effort in management education. To our delight, more female faculty, including Prof. Zhang Shuang, Prof. Michelle Zheng and Prof. Bai Guo, have come on board in recent years, and have injected vitality into our teaching and research. At the same time, the proportion of female alumni has also grown, and women accounted for more than 40% of both CEIBS MBA and Global EMBA students enrolled in 2020. CEIBS has hosted seven Chinese Women Leadership Forums and delivers a broad range of female leadership courses.  We are keenly aware that only when women have a bigger voice in society can we promote gender equality more effectively and make the world a better place.

CEIBS faculty have been relentless in researching and exploring women’s self-worth and leadership. For example, Prof. Chen Shimin’s research has revealed that female leaders play a significant role in boosting companies’ financial performances and governance; Prof. Katherine Xin encourages female leaders to stay action-oriented and deliver a better performance to win more respect; Prof. Xu Dingbo has noted that female managers should not tie themselves down to outdated social norms and expectations; and, in Prof. Jean Lee’s view, grit and grace can lead women to success and enable them to pursue greater meaning and value in life. While focusing on how women can achieve greater success, CEIBS hopes they will draw inspiration from their female identity and follow their heart in seeking self-fulfilment.

Two weeks ago, fourteen CEIBS alumni made it into the 2021 Forbes list of China's top business women. Behind them are numerous companies focused on people’s well-being and China’s development. Thanks to their outstanding leadership, these companies have contributed greatly to economic and social progress. Aside from this list, nearly 6,000 female CEIBS alumni have made their mark across a range of sectors. Some of them have led their companies in achieving remarkable growth, some have become highly respected in their professional fields, some have stood out as budding entrepreneurs against all odds, and some have been bold enough to attempt something new for a higher life goal. The self-confidence, wisdom, courage and tenacity they have displayed, epitomizes the great calibre of women today.

International Women’s Day makes a big difference to women. Over the past century, generations of women have struggled for female rights and the global push for gender equality has led to a remarkable elevation of women’s status. Nowadays, women are playing an increasingly significant role in political, economic, social and cultural affairs. Globally, however, many women still suffer from the inequality brought on by gender bias, and the proportion of women in the C-suite is still low due to traditional stereotypes of women as the weaker and more dependent sex. There is still a long way to go to realise gender equality.

Women’s self-fulfilment has everything to do with their inner awakening. Women should think independently and break away from their restraints to pursue the life they want. They should remember that they are not just a wife, a mother or a daughter, but themselves as well. They may love the excitement of the spotlight or enjoy more tranquil times in the moonlight; they may want to stand on top of mountains or stroll along a small creek; they may yearn for adventure or seek peace of mind. No matter who they are, as long as they follow their heart and chase their dreams with confidence and courage, they will become the best possible version of themselves. 

At the end of Faust, Goethe wrote, “Women, eternally, show us the way.” As women bring us life, love and warmth, their development has a direct bearing on all mankind. Dear alumni, I hope that women will continue to maintain their faith and forge ahead to pursue a meaningful life with wisdom and tenacity, and I hope that men will empathise and side with women, and do more for gender equality. It is my expectation that through the concerted efforts of people from all walks of life, more women will move onto a bigger stage and realise even greater dreams!

Finally, I wish all women a happy International Women’s Day!

Wang Hong
CEIBS President