Women Hold Up Half of The Sky

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Winners and Losers
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The overall impression that people have is actually that female Chinese professionals are pretty strong.

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<p>It's actually quite interesting. I think, frankly, on that front, we should thank Chairman Mao. I think that, really, the women's role, certainly in theory, was really elevated to a high level. Obviously, we all know the famous saying by Chairman Mao, &quot;Women hold up half of the sky.&quot; And so, politically and socially speaking, I think Chairman Mao, certainly under the Communist regime, women's status has been elevated a great deal. Even to this day, certainly, I worked in Hong Kong, I worked in Singapore and my colleagues included female professionals from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and the overall impression that people have is actually that female Chinese professionals are pretty strong. In a sense, that [they are] strong-willed and ambitious. So, in some ways, I think it's because of the education we had when we grow up. But, if you look at the broader data, I believe that the women's situation may have deteriorated in the last 30 years in the sense that with the multiple economic forces at work, and then there seem to be a lot more complaints about discrimination against women at work. Obviously, in the old days, it wasn't an issue because there was simply no vibrant economic activity at the time. So obviously, now, the multiple employers in the market, it's not just the SOEs, in fact, even in SOEs, we have been hearing these complaints about discrimination against women. And then it's harder for female graduates to get jobs because people worry that when they join work, then they're going to get married, they're going to have babies, and then for [a] few years they're not productive enough so, in some ways, they suffer discrimination, actually. So, in that regard, actually, things have not necessarily gotten better. But I think, in a way, that in the past 30 years, with the economic boom, also, the old Chinese kind of male chauvinism is sort of rearing its head as well. So, people kind of expect women to play, basically, a more active role at home as well, in terms of child care, in terms of taking care of the housework and this and that. So, in a way, of course you read about all those anecdotes or evidence about men having multiple wives or mistresses and then elsewhere and this sort of thing. So, in that sense, women's status actually sort of suffered I would say.</p>
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Song Bing talks about the role of women in Chinese society and how the Reform and Opening has affected women's status.