Report: Discrimination exists in S&T

By Jia Hepeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-09 07:21

Women have become more active in China in the field of science and technology, but they still face strong opposition from their male colleagues to attain senior positions, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Released yesterday, the report shows that in the past few decades, female scientists and engineers have grown steadily to 9 million in 2005, accounting for one-third of the total scientific and technological (S&T) professionals in China.

Based on questionnaires and interviews with 2,971 female scientists and engineers nationwide and graduate students in Beijing during the past 18 months, the report shows that the income and working conditions of S&T professionals have been dramatically improved.

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However, according to the report, discrimination against women in the S&T profession has become more apparent, especially when finding jobs.

"In our survey, 93.8 percent of female respondents said they experience discrimination when trying to find a job," said Zhao Lanxiang, lead author of the CAS report and a research fellow at the Institute of Science Policy and Management, CAS.

The report also found that female S&T professionals have to bear major responsibilities at home, which has an influence on their career development.

The report cited the fact that among 175 chief scientists of the 973 Programme a basic science funding scheme in China only eight are female, accounting for 4.6 percent. Among 537 Cheung Kong scholars a well paid teaching position for top scholars and scientists hired by the Ministry of Education, only 21 are female, accounting for 3.9 percent.

While it is tough for female S&T professionals to get promoted, they have become more realistic.

The CAS report reveals that stable jobs and higher incomes have become primary reasons for most women to choose S&T jobs.

In addition, female S&T professionals are treated better in the richer coastal regions of eastern China than their counterparts in central and western China, according to the report.

Based on the survey, the report said: "The tremendous previous efforts to eliminate gender discrimination were mainly concentrated in the political and economic areas, but now more such efforts should be made in the S&T fields."

It suggested the government encourage female S&T professionals to form more organizations to express their interests, and establish special research and training funds to further their careers.

(China Daily 03/09/2007 page2)

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