International Perspective Shapes Gender Discussions
Chinese expatriate Stella Liu, MS ’13, had the full support of her parents when she arrived in the United States to study business at the Smith School.
“My parents seldom hinder my decisions,” she said. “There was no one standing in my way.”
That is not always the case in Asian cultures, where obligations to the family, community and country can take priority over individual preferences. “Some kids have their future planned or guided by their parents,” said Liu, a financial analyst at GroupM in New York.
Gender often factors into these family conversations. Although women typically work outside the home in China, the country’s one-child policy puts pressure on couples to get married and have a baby quickly.
“It is up to us to take care of our parents,” Liu said. “There is no one else.”
When discussing gender in the workplace, she said people need to keep a global perspective. In some countries women cannot even drive cars or walk in public without male escorts. In other countries women have greater opportunities, and discrimination is more subtle when it exists.
“It is important to keep an open mind to changes and differences,” she said.
Her global mindset has paid off in the United States, leading to opportunities at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and beyond.
Earning U.S. visa sponsorship can be tricky for international workers, but Liu put her trust in the power of focused effort. She said this work ethic is another part of the Chinese culture she is proud to claim.
“We have limitations,” she said. “But we are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve our goals.”