What do you do?
I started as a journalist in Hong Kong, writing for the South China Morning Post, The Economist, and other titles. In 2014, I moved to Beijing as a foreign correspondent. I wrote for international audiences, focusing on human rights, LGBT issues, women’s issues, and other social issues. That’s how I became engaged with women’s rights in China.
Now, I’m the chair of the NüVoices board. That doesn’t mean I’m the CEO, but the coordinator. There are dozens of people working on projects. My job is oversee everything and provide support all over the world to anyone who might need it. I’m also a freelance independent journalist who covers social issues.
How does NüVoices work?
NüVoices started as a directory of 500 women. People use it all the time to find guests to book for TV segments or experts to quote in articles.
Our volunteers drive us to do more and more. Everyone is so excited to get events together. We’ve had volunteers helping us with a podcast. I think with the the energy after #MeToo, people have wanted to get involved and take action; to work as a community to do something concrete and positive.
How did NüVoices get started?
In greater China, you can really tell that there’s been a shift from what being a foreign correspondent was like in the past, when it was mostly a prestigious job done by senior male journalists, and what it is today, when younger people who have language skills are being hired. Many of these people who are interested in China are women. And yet, as journalists, we noted that we didn’t quote enough women in stories. This is linked to the problem of expert panels filled with the same men all the time. So a year and a half ago we started crowdsourcing female experts for a directory.
Who are your community members?
Journalists and event organizers — people putting together conferences and panels — use the directory. But our mandate is to celebrate, publish, and support diverse creative works by women in media and the arts in greater China. It’s very broadly defined. We have chapters in China, Hong Kong, and Berlin, and we’re launching in New York later this year. Our existing network is quite journalist-dominated, but we’re trying to get artists, translators, and researchers together, too. A lot of men also want to promote their female colleagues, who they think are not getting as much attention as they should.
What is your working life like?
This past week, I recorded a podcast about #MeToo in China where I interviewed two Chinese researchers for foreign media bureaus, who are often unsung heroes behind many great foreign media reports. Most weeks I’m adding experts to the directory. People will e-mail me with new names for our experts list. I’ve been helping our members in New York put together their first meeting to discuss what kind of events to do. I’ve also been checking in with writers who will feature in our anthology, and with the website designer who’s going to redesign our website.
Where do you see NüVoices doing in the future?
In addition to the website and podcast, we’re looking to publish an anthology of 30 pieces by women writers and artists. It will feature written pieces paired with paintings and photos. We’re going to launch our new website in September, which is going to become a platform for original content where we profile interesting women.
An elevator convo with Joanna Chiu. See here for more from our Next Up series.