Old Challenges, New Strategies: Women, Work, and Family in Contemporary Asia

By Leng Leng Thang; Wei-Hsin Yu | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
CHANGING WORK IDENTITIES FOR PROFESSIONAL
WOMEN IN HONG KONG
Ann Brooks

Introduction

This chapter highlights some of the social and personal issues involved in being a professional woman in Hong Kong today. It outlines some of the findings of a larger research project undertaken in Hong Kong in 2000, and published as a much larger work (see Brooks, forthcoming). Women have traditionally occupied important roles in the Hong Kong community, largely because of the strength of family businesses in Hong Kong. This has, traditionally, given Chinese women in Hong Kong confidence in their decision-making ability and in their capacity to take on and manage important positions in society. Professional women have also enjoyed economic independence and many have become very wealthy, so the traditional reliance on men as in Chinese society has not been as acute in Hong Kong. This tradition has made professional women far more visible contributors to life in Hong Kong than in other Chinese societies. These pressures present women with a range of personal and social issues that are examined in this chapter.

In this research, women in many aspects of professional life in Hong Kong were interviewed, including women from academic, corporate, political, cultural and legal spheres. These women held senior positions and several were “opinion-leaders” in Hong Kong society; some spoke on the record and wished to be identified by name, others chose to remain anonymous. All had made, and were making, a significant contribution to Hong Kong society in different ways, and were committed to the future success and general well-being of Hong Kong and, in almost every case, had no intention of leaving Hong Kong. The women interviewed highlighted the diversity of Hong Kong society and had come from the United States, the Philippines, Britain, Hong Kong, Australasia and China. All had

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