Smart, Young, Female—and Out of Luck?

Taken for Granted

Kelly Krause, AAAS

Earlier this year, China’s government took steps to protect women from discrimination in higher education and employment. Nonetheless, "around two-thirds of China’s top research universities still have policies that can be used to limit the proportion of women students," reports Yojana Sharma at University World News. Sharma cites Huang Yizhi, a Beijing-based lawyer, and Lu Pin, project leader at the Media Monitor for Women Network, a Chinese nongovernmental organization (NGO). The NGO recently released results from a survey that shows that as many as 66% of China's top universities could be in violation of a Chinese government directive. Science and language programs at some of the country’s top institutions, for example, require that "women applicants … score much higher than men in university entrance exams, also known as the gaokao," Sharma writes.

Discrimination against women is reportedly also widespread in China’s increasingly competitive post-university labor market, according to the All China Women's Federation—in apparent disregard for "a notice issued [by the government] on 16 May [that] stipulated that employers could not discriminate on the basis of gender in hiring graduates," the University World News article continues. "Zheng Churan[,] a women’s rights activist and sociology graduate from the prestigious Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Southern Guangdong province, told local media that many female graduates received few responses to job applications while many less qualified male classmates easily found jobs."

Under Chinese law, discrimination in hiring on the basis of gender, race, nationality, or religion can trigger fines for offending employers. But "[t]he punishment is too light, and there's no reward incentive for those who report violators," a Beijing lawyer told Sharma.

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