Employment Gender Gaps in China


Employment Gender Gaps in China











Employment Gender Gaps in China

In recent article in the New York Times, ‘Chinas Entrenched Gender Gap’, written by Leta Hong Fincher where she states that there have been claims that China is a role model of gender equality in the work place in the world. She sensationally argues reports from other media sources, which shows that China as the only country that’s currently dominating in the number of female billionaires” according to world recently surveyed statistics. She refutes this reports by reiterating an irony of the real situation that exists in China where the first growing urban work force least include women. In China, the largest population lives in rural areas. Their perceived high percentage of employed women compared to other countries is because unlike China jobs opportunities in other developed and still developing countries exists in the urban areas and the recent campaign to move people in China to urban areas in lieu of boosting economy has largely seen this percentage go down. In this paper basing on two sociological concepts’ identity and gender, we discuss and highlight the growing gender gap in employment in China.

Leta Hong states that during the 1970s Chinas Communist Party had a mass mobilization to boost the productivity of China. Despite of the Communist leader Mao’s commitment to gender equality, the government did very little to develop the fundamental gender reforms and relations. Women continued to cater for the traditional roles of childcare, taking care of the home a factor that further increased the burden of labor on women. In the year 1990, the government of China as a way of restructuring of its economy fired millions of workers at government-controlled industries. The largest proportion was women and during the rehiring procedure, the system largely favored men. The few women who were lucky to be hired were employed at rates which were quit lower than their male counterparts were (Leta Hong 2013, para 4).

The   global rising level of unemployment, which also affected China, contributed to the emergence of a discriminatory movement, which came to be labeled as, “Women return to the home” movement. It campaigned on women quitting their jobs and make way for men, to reduce the level of unemployment in China (Leta Hong 2013, para 6). She further explains the deep-rooted belief among the Chinese men and women that, with assaying that, I quote, “men belong in public, whereas women belong at home”. In the recent years, the number of Chinese people who have developed this attitude and come to believe in it has tremendously gone up by at least four percent according to the survey that was conducted in the year 2010 by the All-China Women’s Federation and National Bureau of Statistics. In this article, she further gives an example of once successful Beijing advertising agent who at 33 years of age opted to leave her job for two years to concentrate on taking care of her baby. On her return she has faced hardships to secure her job back and now at 37 nobody seems to care to hire a woman of such age in China (Leta Hong 2013, para 5).

The issue of identity has further made the situation worse in the modern China of today. Traditionally Chinese women got married at an earlier age probably between the age of 17 and latest 20. The rise in urban centers increased the exposure where the need for education has slightly changed this old trend. Leta Hong sheds light of a propaganda that was contacted by the central government in 2007 nicknamed, I quote, “The left over’ campaign” (Leta Hong 2013, para 10).The main objective was to stigmatize the urban, well educated women in China above the age of 27, who particularly were yet to be married. The insults added more pressure on these women to abandon their struggle of pursuing higher level of education and carrier and opt for marriage before they are too aged to find a spouse. She further quotes one educated lady from Beijing as saying that, “ Her most important duty is to find a good man to marry her”, This gender discrimination in China has forced some Chinese women to seek jobs elsewhere outside China where they can still seek for further education and advance their careers without any hindrance or intimidation.=

Aside from the evidence of gender inequalities in the article, Fincher also illustrates the existence of social stratification based on the disparate wage rates between women and men in China. Generally, social stratification comprises the classification of the members of a particular society into levels or strata within a supposed hierarchy. The engagement in such categorization is based on aspects such as financial wealth, occupation, income, social status, and authority. As illustrated by Fincher, evidence of social stratification in China takes place based on the roles that women assume in the Chinese society. Despite the calls to support gender equality especially in the workplace, Chinese women have consistently undergone segregation due to their social status. The society believes that the woman’s place is at home while the man’s place is at work. In this context, women are more inclined to desist from pursuing any career-based objectives.

In support of this, Fincher (2013) notes that women are taking up the burdens associated with childcare, cooking, and housework. As such, they are restricted from participating in the employment sector. The occurrence of social stratification on a gender basis is also evidenced by sex-based discrimination in China. This form of prejudice is largely attributed to the supposed privileges and rights accorded to women and men in terms of the roles they assume in society. For instance, in the article, the Chinese society has participated in this form of bias by engaging in propaganda media campaigns that slander modern, educated women who are past 27 years and unmarried (Fincher, 2013). This reveals the extent to which the fixed definition of privileges and rights for men and women in China has affected the latter group in terms of career development.

After analyzing the China problem through Leta Hong Fincher article, several recommendations can be used to either improve or put an end to this. The state media’s “left over” propaganda campaign against the yet to be married Chinese women should be stopped. Gender based quotas that are used by the state to admit more male students in government universities should be abolished and harmonized. Laws that are against gender discrimination in hiring of workers should be enacted and strictly adhered to amend the government laws on subsidized childcare, which contributes to a large number of Chinese women opting out of paid labor, encourage and make women appointments in state political positions (Leta Hong 2013, para 12).











Leta Hong Fincher : China’s Entrenched Gender Gap:2013. New York Times-   May 20, 2013





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