Virtual seminar: Engendered Enterprises: Women and Business in Modern China

Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Chinese Business History Webinar

Engendered Enterprises: Women and Business in Modern China

Dr. Jackie Wang
The University of Hong Kong

Date and Time: January 20, 2023 (Fri), 9:00-10:00 am HKT
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My work examines Chinese women and business in twentieth-century China. Using several case studies, it gives agency to narratives of Chinese businesswomen and female entrepreneurs. Early twentieth-century commercial Shanghai provided opportunities for Chinese women, not just as consumers and labourers of economic goods and services, but also as entrepreneurs, business investors, owners, and managers. Covering the early twentieth-century and focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, my research shows how the changing social norms of the era provided a fertile context for women to explore different paths in the commercial realm, extend their networks beyond the family, and leverage powers of modernized institutions and technologies. My research repositions elite Chinese women by shedding new light on their commercial dealings using several female figures and their respective enterprises as case studies. I argue that individual elite Chinese women in the early twentieth century extended themselves through their network of resources and made strides in conducting business, and that these business activities were shaped by their networks, mobility, and versatility in straddling and moving across different spaces of production. Foregrounding women’s historical agency revises not only how we understand the ways in which women adapted themselves commercially in the private and public realm using a multitude of strategies but also the origins of their varied pathways to business.

About the Speaker
Dr. Jackie Wang obtained her PhD in history from the University of Hong Kong. Her research sheds light on the role of women entrepreneurs in the history of Chinese business and gives agency to these important economic actors and their business activities. Jackie earned her dual Master’s degree in International and World History from Columbia University and The London School of Economics (LSE) and her Bachelor’s degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) from the University of Pennsylvania. 

About the Webinar Series 
This monthly webinar series features the newest research on the history of Chinese business and entrepreneurship. 

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