Better future awaits career women

I lived in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, for two years from 1981. One of my many research projects was to investigate the status of housewives and career women. I quickly learned that married women not only controlled family finances, but also took joint decisions on major family purchases. I also learned that they did not fear their husbands.

The workplace, however, was a different story. In the 1980s, most of the students in local universities were males. Female students were diligent, talented and capable, but knew they had to work within a cultural bias that assumed they should be more dedicated to their families, especially children, than their work and career.

The bias in recruitment and promotion that favored men over women arose less from observational assessments of women's real work performance than it did from deep-seated cultural conviction that women were motivated by love for the family, and not career.

Women who were highly ambitious knew that different sets of standards applied to them compared to their male colleagues. To be successful in the 1980s, a woman was forced to hide the practical realities of being a mother from her colleagues and thus never allow family obligations to interfere with her work.

The emergence of a market economy provided an alterative to employment in State enterprises which, combined with the single-child generation's entry into the job market, provided more opportunities, unimaginable in earlier decades, for young women to advance their career. Today, women are out-competing men in the national college entrance examination - as a recent survey shows that about 60 percent of China's college students are female, a story that is also true in many other countries.

Women are ambitious, talented, and acquiring increasingly higher education than men. In the United States and Europe, such women can opt for a job that provides good income and ample opportunities for promotion.

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  Source: China Daily  2011-03-09

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