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Income gap between the sexes widening

2012-11-28 08:09 China Daily     Web Editor: qindexing comment

Survey reveals gender inequality in job market

The income gap between men and women in China is growing partly because of gender inequality, particularly in the job market, according to a survey.

In 2010, urban women's income was 67.3 percent that of men's and rural women's income was 56 percent that of their male counterparts, the survey found. The ratios were 77.5 percent and 79 percent in 1990.

The nationwide study was carried out by the All-China Women's Federation, the country's largest women's organization.

Incomplete statistics also show that women make up about 45 percent of all employees on the Chinese mainland, while only one in four entrepreneurs is female, said Cui Yu, a member of the federation's secretariat.

Women's incomes are growing much slower than men's, although China has achieved remarkable progress in promoting gender equality, Cui told a symposium in Beijing on Tuesday.

Some 300 delegates — including company executives, scholars, industry leaders and members of non-governmental organizations — attended the one-day conference. It was organized by the federation, UN Women — a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women and girls — and other organizations.

Gender is one of the five most cited factors for respondents when asked about reasons for job discrimination, according to a report released by the Institute of International Labor and Social Security under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in 2011.

The report, based on a poll of 2,240 residents aged 16 to 60 in eight cities, found that 8 percent of female respondents said they lost their jobs because of their gender, compared to only 3.6 percent of men.

Zhang Junfeng, deputy director of the institute and chief editor of the report, told China Daily on the sidelines of the symposium that workplace inequality remains a "thorny problem" and this can partly be attributed to the public's low awareness of gender inequality.

Other reasons include poor enforcement of laws and regulations to protect women's employment rights and difficulty in collecting evidence of gender discrimination, Zhang said.

He added that gender discrimination is a global problem.

Ding Manshan, who works in a foreign law firm's Shanghai office, said a local law firm rejected her application and offered the job to a male candidate last year.

"The interviewer, who was in his 30s, told me bluntly that they only want men because they believe that women are physically weaker," the 24-year-old said.

Julia Broussard, country program manager of UN Women's China Office, urged companies to become agents of social change in China by promoting gender equality internally and in the communities they serve.

"Women have not received their fair share and this has hurt business and society, not to mention women themselves," Broussard said in her opening speech at the symposium.

But some companies have been promoting gender equality.

Ma Xinying, director of the sustainable development management office at China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co, says her company has recruited more female graduates from maritime universities and set up working committees for female employees across the group's 1,000 subsidiaries worldwide.

The shipping giant has more than 70,000 staff members but they are mostly men. "But we have prioritized employing women in positions on land, and now 40 percent of our land staff are women," Ma said at the symposium.

Zhao Ying, vice-president and chief editor of Inc, which runs a major Web portal, said women accounted for half of the company's management posts, and in some departments all leaders are women.

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