Joy Chen: 'Do Not Marry before Age 30'

July 11, 2012
Editor: Zhao Liangfeng

Ex-L.A. Deputy Mayor Joy Chen has published her latest book, Do Not Marry before Age 30. [Guangzhou Daily]

Ex-L.A. Deputy Mayor Joy Chen has published her latest book, Do Not Marry before Age 30. [Guangzhou Daily]

The front cover of Chen's Do Not Marry before Age 30. []

The front cover of Chen's Do Not Marry before Age 30. []

A new book called Do Not Marry before Age 30 has landed itself on several bestseller lists and caused a buzz among women readers.

The author of the book, Joy Chen, is an American-born Chinese who became deputy mayor of Los Angeles when she was just 31 years old. Now, she works as a successful executive recruiter, helping global companies find CEOs and other executives.

In her role as deputy mayor, Chen spearheaded major education and workforce-training programs which later became nation-wide models. Her college-access program was in 2007 signed into California state law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and has helped over 100,000 families send their children to college. Additionally, Chen created an innovative model for helping Los Angeles companies train their employees in the skills they need to succeed in the global business marketplace.

Following her stint in public service, Chen went on to found Chen Partners, an executive recruiting firm based in Southern California. Her work has been hailed in the Financial Times, Business Week, Economist, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chinese World Journal, and other leading publications.

Chen also counts among her academic credentials an MBA and master's degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor's degree from Duke University.

In the course of her work, she has encountered many women clients from China and has found that many of them lack life purpose and consider marriage to be the ultimate goal in life. Her new book thus attempts to convey the message to today's women that the most important thing for a woman is not marriage, but the pursuit of their dreams.

On Marriage and Love

As Do Not Marry before Age 30 becomes a hot topic among readers, Chen has begun to draw the attention of the Chinese media. In a recent interview, she shared her ideas about love, marriage and the concepts she wrote about in her book.

"What I want to talk about in the book is not just marriage, but also love and how to love," Chen said. "The divorce rate is as high as 57% among people born in the 1980s. They marry quickly and divorce quickly. A century ago, the life expectancy was 35 years, so people had to get married and give birth at an early age. These days, life expectancy is as high as 75 years, so it's not necessary to get married so early. However, the mentality about marriage has still not changed. People still think that as a woman, no matter what profession you are in, you have to get married by a certain age or risk being labeled as unmarriageable."

Chen believes that the conflict between tradition and reality has caused great pressure on women.

"Many women I know who got married in their 20s have lost themselves. They have devoted themselves solely to their family," Chen said. "In about 20 years, when their children grow up and leave home, what will they and their husbands have in common?"

Chen suggests that women preserve their identities carefully. "They should certainly have their own values and learn how to love, especially how to love themselves," she said.

However, Chen does think that Chinese women have a tendency to feel more insecure.

"A longing to find a sense of security leads them to spend their prime years looking for Prince Charming," said Chen. "It's dangerous because this leaves them vulnerable to being taken advantage of."

According to Chen, women should work on themselves first and become financially independent before they get married. "They should keep their independence even after marriage," she said.

As a mother of two small daughters herself, Chen has said that she hopes they will read her book when they grow up, and take heart from the lessons within on love, marriage, and how to be a woman.

(Source: and edited by

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