Employee Perspectives

Own your happiness: Breaking through stereotypes and family expectations

March 17, 2020

By Carol Yeung, Director/Associate

“A woman’s virtue is to have no talent. (女子無才便是德)” If you are familiar with Chinese idioms, this is one of the most commonly known idioms that I grew up with.

I was born in a traditional Chinese family where my parents moved from China to Hong Kong in the 70s, looking for stability and a better future for their next generation. However, growing up as a girl in Hong Kong is not as easy as it seems. Despite the international culture, there are still a lot of deep-rooted stereotypes and expectations from the society and family on how I should behave, and there is always an invisible timeline for women.

For instance, the immense pressure for women to get married before 30 or else they would be labelled as “leftover”; and the objectification of women at work  among the language, with a widely used term describing a woman’s cleavage as her “career line” (事業線).

What this all means, is that as a woman in Hong Kong, I have to work extra hard to show my perspective, talent and drive in order to be heard. I hope that by sharing, I could be an inspiration for all women out there who are struggling with social stereotypes or family expectations:

Let your passion burn brighter than your fears:

Listen to your heart. No one knows your passion better than you do, even your parents.

Growing up in a Chinese family means that obedience is often seen as one of the ideal qualities for a “good kid”. That’s why a part of me always worried about disappointing my parents. When I was in my first public relations role, my parents urged me to quit and join the Government as a civil servant for stability and security, and I conformed to their expectations for two years.

Those were the days when I had self-doubts every day and struggled to see my progression in life. Then one morning I woke up and decided I should speak my mind; tell them how I want my life to be and live it the way I wanted.

I am glad that I’ve taken action to own my happiness, and my parents were so proud when I was recognised as the Young PR Professional of the Year by PRWeek Awards Asia in 2016.

Stay focused and find your stage to shine:

In my journey pursuing a career at a communications agency, there were times when people would question, “why do you need to work so hard as a woman?”, “if you are so aggressive at work, no guys would want to date you.” These are the noises and nuisances that could distract you along the way, but as long as you stay focused on your goal and stick to it, you would eventually be able to find your stage to shine.

Don’t be afraid to be different:

We succumb to the pressure to conform because we are afraid to be different from the norm, forgetting that different can also means better. I am very honoured to contribute to Golin’s recognition of Women’s History Month, and a lot of what I have accomplished to this day was from the empowerment of all the other women I met throughout my career. Let’s continue to inspire each other and progress as we go, and remind each other that we should be proud of who we are. We should not apologize for being too smart or driven in achieving our goals.