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Chinese women face severe job competition after implementation of two-child policy

By Shi Jing (People's Daily Online)    08:06, August 10, 2016

Miss Zhao, a graduate of Communication University of China, is visibly frustrated when she talks about her recent experience job hunting. Although Miss Zhao has a PhD as well as experience interning in a central media outlet, she says employers still prefer male applicants, and will sometimes choose a male applicant who holds only a bachelor's degree over a female applicant with a doctorate. She added that, for her, job interviews always include questions about when she plans to marry and have a child, and even about whether she plans to have a second baby.

This year will witness 7.65 million students graduate from universities and colleges across China. This summer is also the first employment season after the universal two-child policy came into effect. As a result, female graduates are facing more severe competition and pressure in job hunting.

Overt and covert gender discrimination floods recruitment notices. Examples of more explicit discrimination include: “only male," "male preferred," "married mother preferred," "higher educational background for female candidates," "appearance and height required" and "obligations of no marriage and no reproduction in certain years.” However, even covert discrimination can be quite obvious, such as when employers inquire about female applicants' marital status and thoughts on family planning, or stress that the position requires frequent overtime and is therefore more suitable for men.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Women’s Studies Institute of China (WSIC), 86.18 percent of female graduates in Beijing, Hebei and Shandong say they have experienced gender discrimination while job hunting.

Marriage, childbearing and employment are all women’s rights, and are protected by law, explained Ma Yan, a researcher with WSIC. However, Ma said, childbearing does increase costs to employers. For instance, in the wake of the universal two-child policy, many local governments have extend mandated maternity from one month to three.

Guo Ruilin, who works in human resources at a private pharmaceutical company, complained, “Normally, maternity impacts a woman's work for a year or two, but the company still pays them a salary and offers social security. A second child will double the costs.” Additionally, according to tradition, women play a central role in domestic affairs. Many employers worry that running a household with two children will further divert women’s attention and energy from work.

A number of experts believe the government should get involved in reducing the stigma and discrimination wrought by the two-child policy. Yin Xiaojun, an associate researcher at the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the government offer financial subsidies or maternity bonuses to help reduce corporate costs. Peng Xizhe, director of Center for Population and Development Policy Studies under Fudan University, also thinks the government should take on some of the maternity costs since, “childbearing is a systematic project that all of society needs to pay attention to and care about.”


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor: Shi Jing,Bianji)

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