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New horizon

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-26 08:43
Zhang Yan, Xu Qi and Yang Li are among the 10 Chinese women to be given the 2017 China Young Women in Science Fellowships for their outstanding performance in their fields of research.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhang agrees. A tolerant atmosphere of gender equality is beneficial for the growth of women in any field, she says.

However, being a woman still means they have to make more of a contribution to their families than most men, Yang says.

"If you want to be equally successful as men, you have to work harder."
Despite this, Yang admits that when she recruits doctors, even she prefers to hire men because "female doctors will take maternity leave once on average, sometimes twice, if they have a second child. This puts a lot of pressure on their colleagues, and presents a very practical problem for hospitals in China".

Although they may have to work harder than their male counterparts, female scientists remain passionate about their work, driven by the hope of becoming the first in their field to find solutions to problems that may have stumped scientists around the world for decades.

"It's funny that when I was younger, the first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning was to search the global database for new papers on my research topic published overnight," Xu says.

Xu worked for the international Human Genome Project for six months as a graduate student in the 1990s, and her eyes light up when she talks about that experience.

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