Reconciling conflicts: The "Accidental" women leaders in contemporary China

Woon Ki Angelina Yuen Tsang, Pauline Sung Chan, Lixi Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the life stories of women leaders in the People's Republic of China, particularly their paths to leadership, in the context of sociohistorical changes that have unfolded in China since the late 1970s. It illustrates how women developed their attitudes toward leadership roles and their unique leadership style. By unveiling the dynamic interplay between culture and institutional factors presented by social change, the authors argue that the choices these women leaders made were shaped by their continual efforts to reconcile conflicting roles arising from two axes: the "expert-official" and the "private-public" dichotomies. The article concludes with an urgent call to policymakers to protect the rights of Chinese women by developing a workplace policy that promotes gender equality at the top of the political pyramid. Such a policy would take into consideration the inherent frictions and dilemmas experienced by Chinese women leaders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-326
Number of pages13
JournalAffilia - Journal of Women and Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • chinese women leader
  • culture
  • equality policy
  • identity
  • leadership style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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