Interview by Megan Foo, Blogger and President of Hong Kong’s Women LEAD Chapter
Liu Jiang is a freshman at Stanford University, studying Economics (Finance and Strategy) and Engineering (Human-Computer Interaction). She is actively involved with the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES), TEDxStanford, and StartX, an educational non-profit that develops Stanford’s top entrepreneurs. Liu serves the Chief Development Officer (CDO) and Chapters Director of Givology, an online giving marketplace that directly connects donors to grassroots education projects around the world. In high school, Liu was a Southern California Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International, which focuses on protecting human rights worldwide. She firmly believes that female education and empowerment is essential to achieving economic development and social equality.
Women LEAD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Liu Jiang: Originally from Southern California, I am studying Economics and Engineering at Stanford University, the institution where I can best satisfy my passions for both STEM and the social sciences/humanities. I feel incredibly lucky to be in the heart of Silicon Valley as I am interested in building products and platforms for the five industries that are key to the prosperity of the world: finance, education, healthcare, government, and energy.
Women LEAD: Could you describe one woman who has inspired and encouraged you in your life?
Liu Jiang: I have been incredibly lucky to have strong and fearless female role models in my family, most specifically my mother and my maternal grandmother, both of who taught me from an early age to defy gender stereotypes and break gender barriers. My life dose of inspiration comes from Eleanor Roosevelt, who went above and beyond her role as First Lady to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Women LEAD: What activities and societies were you actively involved with in high school? What student associations are you a part of at university?
Liu Jiang: At Stanford, I am actively involved in the tight-knit entrepreneurial community: the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES), TEDxStanford, and StartX, an educational non-profit that develops Stanford’s top entrepreneurs. In high school, I was involved in a number of different activities ranging from journalism to speech and debate to student leadership.
Women LEAD: Why did you decide to get involved with volunteering?
Liu Jiang: I am strong believer that every citizen in the global community should engage in civic work and public service. For students especially, volunteering is critical because it gives us the first-hand perspective of the world’s challenges that we hear about occasionally in the academic bubble known as school. In middle school, I first began volunteering at the senior center in my immediate community because I had learned about age-related struggles at school. As I grew older and gained more of a macro perspective, my work expanded to state, national, and even international causes. Despite the increase in scale of my work, I have still maintained the micro perspective by focusing on girls’ education, human rights, and universal access to education. Volunteering is one of those few endeavors that are age-neutral in the sense that people of all ages can assume as much responsibility as they like and create the impact they want to see. Now at Stanford, I am heavily engaged in leveraging technologies for social entrepreneurship.
Women LEAD: Why is girls’ education important to you?
Liu Jiang: Females account for approximately fifty percent of the world’s population, and education is a universal human right. If our failure to properly empower and educate half of our global community prevails, we simply cannot accrue all the talent, collective effort, and perspectives we need to solve the big problems in finance, education, healthcare, government, and energy.
Women LEAD: What would you say are the biggest challenges to ending gender-based discrimination / gender inequality worldwide?
Liu Jiang: The greatest challenge to ending gender-based discrimination and inequality is engaging the other half of the world’s population: males. In college, I see a number of women-related initiatives, from women in business, to women in engineering, to women in tech. These initiatives are wonderful steps forward, but we cannot forget that we not only need to increase both women’s passion for women’s issues but also men’s passion for women’s issues. Women’s issues affect not only women but also men, and I think that most of the awareness that is currently being raised disproportionately targets women. The day when there is no more need for women-specific initiatives will be a day to celebrate indeed.
Women LEAD: What needs to change to increase interest and participation in politics and economics from this generation of women?
Liu Jiang: I see myself ultimately working in finance and tech and maybe eventually government, all three industries of which are heavily male dominated. Part of what needs to change to increase female interest in politics and economics are our own mentalities. I see many more females than males around me who doubt themselves, their goals, and their abilities. Whenever in self-doubt, ask yourself, what is there to lose? Oftentimes, there is much more to be gained than lost. Girls and women should promote themselves more and be unafraid to create their own opportunities if the ones they want don’t arise. That spirit of fearlessness, boldness, and self-advocacy has served me well for the past 18 years, whether in school, leadership roles, or the workplace.