TED talks trigger Chinese feminism

Chief Operating Office of Facebook and author Sheryl Sandberg (image source)
Chief Operating Office of Facebook and author Sheryl Sandberg (image source)

In recent weeks, a 2010 TED Talk by Sheryl Sandberg has reawakened feminist ambitions within male-dominated Chinese society.

In her talk, Sandberg discusses the lack of prominent female leaders in society, but it wasn’t just her talk that has reignited recent feminist efforts. Her book “Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” spurred the creation of a Lean-In circle in Beijing lead by Allison Ye.


Ye’s passion for the empowerment of women in Chinese society began when she stumbled upon Sandberg’s 2010 talk and realized how little of the leadership in China was made up of women.

“I was shaken,” Ye told The New York Times. “I said to myself, ‘Who is she?’ Everything she said was, wow! So true. I watched it three times in one day. Then I bought an English copy of her book.”

Over the past few years, however, women have been gaining more and more footing in the Chinese academic community. According to the article’s author, Dide Kirsten Tatlow, “many young Chinese women, especially in cities, are highly educated and beginning to overtake men in some college subjects.”

According to Feng Yuan, an activist for gender rights and equality, the personal message of the book generated its success among its growing fan base.

“I don’t think the personal approach can change the fundamentally unequal gender structures,” Yuan said to The New York Times. “But in terms of a woman’s individual situation, it’s useful because a lot of women fear feminism, that kind of collective call. A personal message is workable.”

To read more about the Lean-In groups in China click here.