Chinese Women Still Face Discrimination in Workplace

March 14, 201710:18 am
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Chinese women still face gender discrimination in employment opportunities and career development, according to findings released by Zhaopin Limited, a leading career platform in China in its report titled, “2017 Report on the Current Situation of Chinese Women in the Workplace.”

Based on its annual survey on 128,500 women in the workplace, to understand their situation and environment for women to seek employment opportunities, promotions, career paths and goals, the findings indicate 22 percent of Chinese women have experienced severe or very severe discrimination when seeking employment, as compared to 14 percent men.

Some of the key highlights from the report are:

  • Better educated women were more likely to be discriminated when they applied for jobs. About 43 percent women with graduate degrees felt severe or very severe discrimination, compared with only 18 percent of men with the same level of education.
  • In career development, 25 percent women experienced severe or very severe discrimination in promotions, compared with 18 percent of men.
  • It took longer time for women to get promoted. About 59 percent men were promoted for the first time within two years of employment, compared to 49 percent women. Meanwhile, 44 percent of women never got promoted, compared with 31 percent of men.
  • As to barriers to promotions, women were more likely to attribute the lack of promotion to personal reasons. About 40 percent women believed that they lacked the competence or experience required for being promoted, compared with 32 percent of men.
  • Leadership positions were still dominated by men in China. About 72 percent participants had men as their direct supervisors, while only 28 percent had women as supervisors.

Women still face gender discrimination when seeking employment

Gender discrimination against women has been an issue for a long time. Even though the government and other organizations have been making efforts to drive equality in the workplace, women still experience severe gender discrimination in both their employment opportunities and career development, the survey found.

In the process of seeking employment, 22 percent women experienced severe or very severe discrimination, compared with 14 percent of men. About 27 percent men believed there was no, or almost no, discrimination, compared with 18 percent of women, the survey findings highlighted.

The gender discrimination experienced by women when they sought employment varied with age, marital status and educational background. Women aged 25 to 34 felt discrimination most strongly. Married women without children were more likely to be discriminated against when applying for employment because some employers worried that they would have children after being hired.

Better educated women were more likely to be discriminated against when they applied for jobs, the survey found. About 43 percent women with graduate degrees felt severe or very severe discrimination, compared with only 18 percent of men with the same level of education.

See: China Makes Advances in Gender Diversity despite Drop in Women Participation Rate

Discrimination against Women More Palpable in Promotions

According to Zhaopin’s survey, 25% of women experienced severe or very severe discrimination in promotions, compared with 18% of men. Meanwhile, about 26% of men said there was no, or almost no, discrimination in promotions, compared with 19% of women.

Women aged 25 to 34 are in a critical stage of their career development, but they were also the groups who felt the most intense discrimination in promotions. In terms of marital status, married women without children experienced more severe discrimination in promotions.

As in the employment process, the better educated, the more likely were women to be discriminated against in promotions. About 35 percent of women with graduate degrees felt severe or very severe discrimination in promotions.

Zhaopin also found in its survey that it took a longer time for women to get promoted. About 59 percent of men were promoted for the first time within two years of employment, compared with 49 percent of women. Meanwhile, 44 percent of women never got promoted, compared with 31 percent of men.

Women more prudent in the workplace

Zhaopin’s survey indicated that women were more conservative in seeking job opportunities. Women were much more likely to only apply for positions for which they strongly matched the job requirements, while men were more willing to apply even if they did not match certain job requirements.

Women were less confident in their career development and tended to expect a longer time required for their next promotion, Zhaopin found in the survey. About 65 percent men had clear expectation for their next promotion, compared with 59 percent of women. About 32 percent women had no idea about their next promotion, compared with 26 percent of men.

As to barriers to promotions, the survey found clear differences between women and men. Women were more likely to attribute lack of promotion to personal reasons. About 40 percent women believed that they lacked the competence or experience required for being promoted, compared with 32 percent of men. Meanwhile, men tended to blame external factors, such as not being appreciated by their supervisors, or losing a chance by transferring to a new position.

Fewer women in leadership roles

Zhaopin found in the survey that the leadership positions were still dominated by men in China. About 72% of participants had men as their supervisors, and only 28% had women as their supervisors.

Leadership Positions by Gender

Men as leaders 72%
Women as leaders 28%

Women believed that their biggest challenges in the workplace were unclear career path and lack of professional guidance, while men saw career transition as their biggest challenge, according to Zhaopin’s survey.

For future career development, more women chose to improve personal value and strength, and take more challenging work, while men gave more priority to extending relations and accumulating resources, and being promoted to be a leader/manager.

Also read: Family Pressures and Commitments Hold Women Back from Leadership Positions in China