At the heart of it all is a real doctrine of equality.”   Anna Chitty

A quick glance at the leadership teams of advertising and media agencies in China reveals a gender balance unmatched in other markets, with women holding the top jobs at no less than 20 leading agencies across Greater China.

Agencies such as BBDO, BBH, Carat, Cheil, Dentsu Aegis Network, Leo Burnett, Mindshare, OMD, PHD and Publicis Media, are just some of the industry giants helmed by women. The trend is significant, especially when compared to other markets. However, to the women The Drum spoke to, it’s no big deal.

China is no stranger to women in powerful positions with large numbers of women occupying the top jobs – particularly CMO roles – in major companies and that’s not to mention the 49 Chinese women who run companies and rank among a list of the world’s self-made billionaires.

Ever since the cultural revolution in 1949 the ideas of gender equality have been widespread in China, led by Mao Zedong’s famous statements about the role of women.

“Women Hold Up Half The Sky,” is a proclamation made by Mao Zedong, mainly to prove that women are a resource that ought to be deployed outside of the homes into the professional fields. It is such a powerful statement that affirms that women can do just as much as men can,” says Tan Tze Kiat, chief executive officer of BBDO China.

“China has explicitly upheld the notion of gender equality in daily life and tasks,” agrees PHD China CEO Anna Chitty. “That’s not to say pressures are equal across genders, as there are expectations that are different for males and females that are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. However, at the heart of it all is a real doctrine of equality.”

Generations of Chinese women and men have grown up with these ideas of gender balance, which has contributed to China’s strong female workforce – 64% of women in China work compared with 54% of women in the UK and US.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Chinese women are also excelling in their work, with 33% of married women aged under 40 years earning more than their husbands, while a further 19% of single women earn more than their male counterparts, according to findings in the BBDO Voices report.

It’s clear that China is doing something right when it comes to gender equality and creating an even playing field for women in the workforce.

However, this equality was not built on attitude alone. A number of factors have played significant roles in helping women to snare the top jobs in agencies – including the late arrival of the advertising industry in China and the role of men and the family.

However, everyone believes there is still a lot of work to be done. While the advertising industry is rife with women, the same cannot be said for other industries in China.

Omnicom Media Group Taiwan CEO Kelly Huang agrees that female representation in leadership across the region is hugely dictated by the industry.

“It really depends on the industry. Across traditional industries, men continue to dominate senior management roles here. However, in marketing and advertising, there are a lot more opportunities for women in leadership positions. Though many of the country heads or top leadership positions are still held by men, I think women leaders have a lot more visibility now.

“It’s about believing in a future where there are no female or male leaders – there are just leaders.”

Read the full article here. Originally authored by Danielle Long for The Drum