Chen Zhili, female, Han nationality is a native of Xianyou County of Fujian Province. She was born in 1942, joined the CPC in 1961 and graduated from Fudan University in 1964. She did her postgraduate work at the Shanghai Institute of Silicate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A physicist by training, Chen held research positions in the early 1980s, was a visiting scholar at Penn State University in the US from 1980 to 1982. She worked in Shanghai Institute of Silicate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences from 1982-1984, and later served in the publicity department of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee. In 1997, Chen was appointed deputy director of the State Education Commission and one year later, was appointed Minister of Education.
Chen served as State Councilor of the State Council from 2003-2008. She was an alternate member of the 13th and 14th CPC Central Committees and a member of the 15th and 16th CPC Central Committees. She is now a member of the 17th CPC Central Committee and a Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 11th NPC. In 2008, she was elected President of the All-China Women's Federation. In 2010, Chen was elected as Chairman of Children’s Foundation of China.