Chinese Women ‘Name and Shame’ Companies They Say Discriminate

30 Dec
An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

An activist in Yunnan Province prepares to mail letters to her local government complaining of illegal gender discrimination by Chinese companies.

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.

Job advertisements in China have long listed a range of desired qualities in applicants, sometimes including height and weight. And the women say that they are aware that some job advertisements request women, especially in the service and handicrafts sectors. But they note that such jobs tend to pay less than the managerial positions that may specify male applicants.

The women, who call themselves “volunteers” and aim to highlight gender discrimination in China, provided photographs of themselves with dozens of letters of complaint they say they mailed to local government offices on Dec. 26. Most of the companies they list are privately owned and employ at least 500 people.

Contacted by telephone, two of the companies in Yunnan said they would drop the request for male applicants from their job advertisements.

Kunming Union Technology Company, the only state-owned enterprise on the women’s list, had advertised several positions for male engineers to maintain credit and debit card machines.

“This is a job that requires frequent travel and outdoor legwork. You need go to all those shops to install or fix the machines. Women are not quite fit for that,” said a woman who answered the telephone in the company’s human resources department. “But if there are female candidates we would still considering hiring them.”

So why say that only men need apply? “If women apply, we are open to them,” she said. “We support free choice.”

Kunming Daqiang Precious Metals Trading Company advertised for a male general manager with financial experience.

“If woman applies, we’d consider her also,” said a woman answering the telephone.

So why specify a man?

“What does it matter?” she asked. “I just love you journalists. They can apply. I’ll change the requirement right away.”

Faced with so many job ads that appear to shut them out, some female university students reason: “If that’s the case, then it’s more important to marry well than to study well,” said one “volunteer” in an emailed statement. She declined to give her real name out of concern for political repercussions over their action.

“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.

Figures from the central government’s All-China Women’s Federation show that women’s average incomes have fallen relative to men’s since China embarked on market-oriented economic changes in the late-1970s.

Most shocking for the “volunteers,” they said, was the discovery that 80 percent of jobs that specified male applicants did not require physical labor. While many Chinese are aware of the gendered job ads, most believe they are aimed at ensuring that jobs that require physical strength, such as security guard, are filled by men.

One Response to “Chinese Women ‘Name and Shame’ Companies They Say Discriminate”

  1. Aimi January 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Reblogged this on Lost in The World Map.

    Like

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