Women still face bias on the job: survey

Updated: 2011-10-22 08:30

By He Dan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Chinese women face discrimination in the job market and earn less than men even though they spend more time on the job and working at home, a survey found.

Nearly one out of four female college students said they have been discriminated against when looking for jobs, according to a survey released by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and National Bureau of Statistics on Friday.

Female professional respondents also said they encountered discrimination in their careers, as about 20 percent of their employers preferred to "hire only men or give men priority over women when both have the same capabilities".

Among "female talents", they counted senior experts in academies, engineers and female leaders in government organs and enterprises, said Jiang Yongping, a researcher at the Women's Studies Institute of China, who participated in the survey.

Nearly 31 percent of the talented women polled said they were promoted slower than their male counterparts who have the same qualifications. Nearly half of them said the better positions were dominated by men.

"When I entered the final running for a position in a State-run property company, the interviewer didn't ask anything else after learning that I am 26 and still single," said a female graduate student from Shanghai whose surname is Shan. She said the company offered the job to a male candidate.

Sun Xiaomei, a professor specializing in women's studies at China Women's University, said the maternity leave can be a major deterrent for employers in hiring women.

"Nowadays, a women usually reaches optimal child-bearing age after graduating from college," Sun said. " So her potential employer worries that after two or three years she will get married and have a child.

"You cannot require a woman to travel frequently or work extra hours once she is pregnant or has a baby at home, which brings a lot of trouble and inconvenience for an employer," Sun said. Apart from women's bigger role in raising children, the gender inequality in employment come from other factors, too, said Song Xiuyan, deputy head of the ACWF, at a news conference in Beijing on Friday.

Song said the traditional notion that "men should go out to work while women should look after family members" is still influential and is deeply rooted in China's history.

The survey also showed that women work 574 minutes a working day, on average, 37 minutes longer than men; and women rest 240 minutes during the weekends, about an hour shorter than men. In addition, about 73 percent of married women said they do more housework than their husbands. The survey showed women earn much less than men in both rural and urban areas.

The annual income of female urbanites is 67 percent of that of their male counterparts, and women laborers earn only half of what men do in rural areas, according to the poll.

The survey, which aimed to understand changes in Chinese women's social status, polled more than 105,000 women older than 18 and 20,400 girls aged from 10 to 17. It showed that women on the whole have made great progress in education and health.

Jin Huiyu contributed to this story.