Career women and work-life balance
Jul 12, 2020



Student winners and C200 officials on Wednesday. Photo: Courtesy of Ren Feifei

By Wen Ya

This year keeps getting better and busier for Liu Fan. Early on she started her own construction materials company in Tianjin, then this semester was admitted to Tsinghua University's School of Econmics and Management as a part-time MBA student. Last week, she was awarded a scholarship by the Committee of 200 (C200) Foundation, an international, non-profit organization to support women's business leadership at C200 Reachout at Tsinghua, a global women business forum held by her school.

Liu, 26, is one of seven winners in China selected by C200 when it first came to China this month. Though busy juggling her business, studies and taking care of her family, she makes a point to maintain a balance between her personal and professional life.

Women's secrets

She explained that the way to keep everything in check is to properly manage one's schedule and set clear goals, which results in a little more of any career woman's most precious resource: extra time.

"If the two are unbalanced, your life will be a mess," Liu told the Global Times. "No matter how busy I am, I'll leave myself time for reflection and relaxation."

Liu's schoolmate Zhang Lin, 37, another scholarship winner and mother of a six-year-old son, has run an IT company in Beijing for three years. She says her secret for success is communication and self-sacrifice.

"Communicating improves work efficiency and mutual understanding with my employers, families and friends. They help me sometimes when I run into difficulties, " Zhang told the Global Times. "As a mother, I make many sacrifices, but that's a cost I'm willing to pay."

Tipped scales

However, not all women entrepreneurs are able to maintain that balance, even the most successful ones.

Liu Lili, an economist and president of a Beijing-based construction company, said she blames always putting work first for her divorce four years ago.

"If I had put more time and energy to my family, I would have not divorced. If I could do it over again, I'm sure I could do it better," Liu said at the "Balancing Career and Life" panel of the forum.

Hou Pingyan, 34, an editor with the People's Military Medical Press in Beijing, says she is not workaholic, but still feels lots of pressure, which have affected her health.

"The constant performance assessments at my job are stressful. Also, sitting behind a desk for so long has led to severe neck and back pain. If I turn quickly, I faint," Hou said.

After getting home from work, she often finds she has no chance to rest. Looking after her 3-year-old daughter also means giving up her hobby of traveling and hiking. Due to her lack of free time, she can only meet up with her friends online, most of whom she has not seen for at least three years.

Flex time is key

To maintain both a healthy personal and professional life, some white-collar women choose to compromise by simply working less.

Yang Juan, a 30-year-old mother, found her current job in a Beijing-based publishing house in May. The position allows her to work from home two days a week and has little pressure. Despite her salary being only 3,000 yuan ($451) a month, Yang still feels satisfied.

"I just want my job close to home with flexible hours so I can take care of my two-year-old baby," Yang told the Global Times.

"Raising children is a full time job as it is. It's almost impossible to develop a career during your child's first three years," Yang added.


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