Since the late 1970s, the wage gap between men and women in China has been growing steadily, thanks mostly to the country's shift to a more market-oriented economy. Well, that and some good old fashioned gender bias, of course.
Prospects are grim for Chinese women on the hunt for new careers as many employers specifically place job advertisements that only seek male applicants. (There are also ads specifically aimed at women, but they are almost always for low-paying work in service or handicrafts.) In some cases, this discrimination is because the employer has deemed the job too physically demanding for female candidates (whatever), but more often than not (about 80% of the time), the preference for men is based in nothing but institutionalized sexism.
Recently, however, a group of young lady toughs have made it their mission to call out employers on their fucked-up and mostly arbitrary gender bullshit.
From the New York Times:
Eight young Chinese women, most of them university students facing a tight job market, have "named and shamed" dozens of Chinese companies they say are illegally specifying that only men can apply for certain positions. They have mailed their complaints to government human resource departments in the cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing, and in Yunnan and Henan Provinces.
Calling themselves "volunteers," these women — who are educated, hard-working and resourceful (ideal employees, in other words) — are doing their best to bring attention to the gender discrimination that pervades China by publicly and loudly calling out the companies that are the worst offenders.
One volunteer, who anonymously spoke with The New York Times, points out that the wage gap doesn't only affect women financially — it also affects them psychologically by reinforcing the importance of marriage (hitching yourself to a man with a good salary and career) over finding work for yourself.
"It's more important to marry well than to study well," the volunteer said, then adding, "We college students are facing serious employment problems, so we hope our action will breathe life into the laws and regulations that ensure equality of opportunity in employment," she wrote.
Thanks to the pressure drummed up by volunteers, two companies have agreed to change their gender policy. Fingers crossed, more will follow.
Image via Shutterstock.