Two research experts participated in a special conversation recently to talk about factors that impede equal opportunities for Chinese women to find jobs and share their suggestions.
With the advancement of society, more and more women have received higher education and are playing an increasingly important role in China's economic, political, cultural and social development.
However, discrimination against women in the labor market still exists, and the national "universal two-child" policy has increased the challenges faced by women in employment, according to some commentators.
The two experts analyzed the situation from three main topics.
Traditional Social Division of Gender
"Women have been discriminated against in employment because of the influence of the traditional social division of gender," said Ma Dongling, an associate researcher from the Women's Studies Institute of China.
Ma said from traditional point of view, women are considered as mothers who give birth, bring up and take care of children rather than female workers who form part of the labor market.
It's generally held that women should spend most of their time on raising children and looking after family instead of devoting themselves to their jobs. By contrast, male workers are encouraged to do better in jobs.
"As long as the traditional gender roles at home and work remain the same, the discrimination against women will still exist in employment," added Ma.
Zhong Xiaohui, an associate researcher of the School of Government at Sun Yat-sen University, said there are many reasons for such discrimination, and from the perspective of society, it lies in the backwards traditional culture and ideas.
Due to the economic development in the society, gender roles have changed accordingly. However, people's traditional ideas remain. Many still believed women should pay close attention to taking care of children, the elderly and family members whilst men should work outside.
"Employers thought women can't do jobs as well as men, and it is the kind of prejudice that brings women with unequal opportunities in finding jobs and getting promotions," said Zhong.
Improved Social Environment
In recent years, more and more women have made significant achievements in different fields. They have realized their values and set examples for others.
Ma said the improved social environment can be attributed to two factors.
First, women have a strong will and confidence to find jobs and achieve their success. They are willing to be workers and contribute their efforts to social development.
Second, the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) has encouraged women's participation in social production and also provided opportunities for women to create a better future for themselves in the new era.
Zhong also has a deep feeling for the change. She said people have paid closer attention to gender equality in recent years and more experts and scholars discussed issues about gender, employment, education and childcare.
Men are Encouraged to Participate in Family Construction
With the implementation of two child policy in the country, it is increasingly difficult for women to enjoy an equal employment environment.
For this, Ma said more outstanding female workers and entrepreneurs should be popularized among the public to help develop women's roles in social work.
For example, the All-China Women's Federation select individuals and groups to be given the title of National March 8th Red-banner Holders and National March 8th Red-banner Pacesetters every year. They have called on other women to learn from their stories and spirits, which has had a positive social impact.
Ma also said men should be encouraged to participate in family construction, and stereotypes in the traditional gender division of labor should be eliminated.
Relevant departments can promote inspirational slogans to help enhance women's status both in society and in the family, added Ma.
Zhong, from another perspective, pointed out the important role of men in promoting gender equality. She said that although issues related to gender equality are drawing growing concern in the society, yet most of the people who discussed issues about employment, education and family care are women, whilst few men involve themselves in such discussion.
Zhong explained that an everlasting alliance linking men and women must be set up and both genders should contribute their efforts to creating a harmonious social atmosphere so as to provide women with equal opportunities.
The alliance is expected to help integrate gender equality into policy making and relevant departments such as the health commissions, the ministries of education, the civil affairs bureau and women's federations at all levels should also pay closer attention to the issue, said Zhong.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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