Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Female pioneers share secrets

DREAM CAREERS A group of 100 girls got a chance to shadow successful working women and hear their advice in a mentoring program sponsored by a women's group

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

If behind every successful man is a woman, as the saying goes, what's behind the success of a woman? Taiwanese girls were given the chance to hear answers to that question from female pioneers this summer at a "Girls' Working Day" program sponsored by the women's group Garden of Hope.

This summer's Girls' Working Day program is the first of its kind in the country. The program was inspired by the US' "Take Your Daughter to Work Day," foundation representatives said. Hoping a similar event would help Taiwanese girls get a glimpse of their dream careers, the women's group decided last month to present Taiwan's first Girls' Working Day.

The program, originally planned for just one day, stretched into a series of events that ended last week. Through the program, over 100 Taiwanese middle school to college-age girls signed up to follow older women in their dream professions.

Career guidance was one of the program's goals, Garden of Hope executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said. Another focus was gender equality. The Girls' Working Day series aimed to show a younger generation of Taiwanese women that female professional success is more than a vague concept, Chi said.

Through interaction with Tai-wan's professional women -- from makeup counter assistants to a snack store entrepreneur to the nation's Vice Premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) -- Chi expressed her hope that participants would realize that the future is boundless.

The program paired up young girls throughout the nation with professional women, with some getting the opportunity to shadow businesspeople and leading female politicians such as the vice premier.

One such lucky girl was Chen Ming-chu (陳美珠), a high school student from Taichung.

Chen, who hopes to study communications and media broad-casting in college, said she learned a lot from shadowing cable channel ETTV executive director Joanna Lei (雷倩) last week.

When she met Lei, Chen said, she was dazzled by the respect and honor she was given.

"The whole day, it was like we were dreaming," Chen said. "There were three of us, and wherever we went with Lei, people would be really polite and respectful. Can you imagine what that was like? It was like we were really important too. We followed Lei to an international conference she was attending where they talked about Taiwan's international image, and everyone was talking in English! It was so global ... we were introduced to many people who were the directors of this and that company, people we would have never dreamed of meeting, people valued at millions and millions of NT [dollars]."

One instance in particular sparked in Chen a passion for accomplishment.

"When we were with Lei, someone cooked some herbal rice porridge for all of us," Chen said. "But when we were eating, we noticed that [people] would remind us to finish our food, but no one said anything to the directors and leaders when they didn't finish. At that moment, all of us swore that we would one day become important ourselves, so that no one would be able to tell us what to do."

Chen said she learned a lot from Lei about the ingredients for success.

"I asked her what she did when she encountered difficulties in her life," Chen said.

"And she told me, `When it's rainy out, what do you do? You put on a rain jacket.' Although she's faced a lot of problems, Lei told me that she didn't really think they were worth talking about, because problems and difficulties are pretty natural. They happen, and you get through it," she said.

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