China Confronted with Gender Imbalance Amongst Teachers

July 13, 2018
Editor: Liu Yang

Like many countries from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), China has been faced with serious gender imbalance in the composition of its teaching forces over the past few years.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education found that the proportion of female teachers in senior middle schools in Beijing and Shanghai reached 71.9 percent and 65.9 percent respectively in 2016.

Meanwhile, women accounted for 76.3 percent and 73.7 percent of the teaching forces in junior middle schools from the two cities in the same year.

The percentage of female teachers from primary schools in two the metropolises also surpassed 80 percent in the meantime.

In fact, the phenomenon of a gender imbalance amongst teachers is ubiquitous with varying degrees across the entire nation and the trend has built up its momentum over the past few years.

For instance, another group of figures from the Ministry of Education showed that the proportion of female teachers from nationwide senior middle schools, secondary and elementary schools rose to 52.13 percent, 54.49 percent and 65.34 percent in 2016, up four to seven percentage points on average compared with 2011.

The predominance of a higher percentage of female teachers has brought huge difficulties to relevant schools in the completion of curricular assignments since a rising number of female faculty staff have become pregnant and given birth to their second children after the adoption of the universal two-child policy in January 2016.

Meanwhile, some parents have become concerned about the gender-based imbalanced composition of teaching faculty staff since the shortage of male teachers is believed to be detrimental to the sound growth and formation of healthy characters of boys.

As a matter of fact, the phenomenon of gender imbalance has been rampant in all academic disciplines at nationwide universities designed to train new teachers. The reluctance of male college graduates to be teachers has further aggravated the situation.

Zhang Lili, a professor from Beijing Normal University, attributed the unwillingness of male graduates to be teachers to the fact that the profession cannot meet their expectations for income and social status.

So far, some provinces such as Fujian, Jiangsu and Henan have already rolled out preferential policies to boost the enrollment of male teachers-to-be in local universities and increase the recruitment of more male teachers for high schools, elementary and secondary schools.

Yang Zhentan, an official from Fujian Department of Education, stressed that the key to resolving the gender imbalance amongst nationwide teachers is to increase their social status and income.

Liu Haifeng, a professor from the Institute of Education in Xiamen University, echoed Yang's proposal and added that a quota system should be introduced to boost the recruitment of more male teachers.

(Source: gmw.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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