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Women graduates face hurdles in tight job market
( 2003-11-12 09:21) (China Daily)

In a tight job market, women graduates are faced with an extra hurdle as many employers dangle "Men Only" signs at job fairs.

Though seven months to go before their graduation from college, students become anxious to find a job. Groups of students from as far as Hubei and Jiangxi provinces come to Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, where a job fair is being held. [newsphoto.com.cn]
"It is so depressing that I almost wanted to have a sex change," said a graduate student from Renmin University of China.

Late last year, a job fair was held at Beijing's Friendship Hotel specially tailored for female students but out of 500 employers invited, only five showed up. The hearts of hundreds of job-seekers sank as they waited for a job-bestowing Godot.

Female students complain that recruiters demand more from women for the same positions. For example, when a grade-4 English proficiency level will do for men, women have to achieve the higher grade 6. Likewise, when "basic writing skill" is required of men, women must achieve "excellent writing standard".

And these are among the "reasonable" requisites. The ability for binge drinking or propensity for low-cut dresses are some of the "PR skills" that are either inquired about or touted.

However, not everyone has sympathy for the "weaker sex". Some recruiters claim that the positions available require extensive travelling, which is inconvenient for single women.

Others attribute subsequent pregnancy and maternity leave as a huge cost to the employer.

There are even people who question the whole premise of gender discrimination.

Some experts lay the blame on the women students themselves for being less competitive in the job market.

Women tend to be less flexible in searching for their first jobs. They insist on getting into enviable firms, for example, foreign-owned or large State-owned companies, in cities that pay good salaries. Men, on the contrary, are more willing to take a step down when necessary, they argue.

Another opinion is that women students tend to take an intuitive approach to job hunting. They don't spend as much time researching potential employers or do not prepare as meticulously about presenting their credentials.

"They often have a passive mentality," says one commentator.

However, Li Xiandong, associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said that preference of men over women in hiring constitutes discrimination.

"It is against the law," he said.

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