From Overseas Press

China is still a man's world

Updated: 2011-06-27 13:58
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China is still a man's world where few women rise to the top echelons of its government and biggest sate-owned companies, according to Bloomberg News on June 23, 2011.

Only two women have been appointed governors of China's 31 provinces and four biggest municipalities since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, while 32 women have been elected governors of the 50 US states in that time. China's 35-member state council has only four women, while six of 21 members of President Barack Obama's cabinet are female and five of 15 full ministers are women in France.

China's state-owned companies follow a similar theme, said the article. Only one woman holds the top position among China's 120 state-owned enterprises. Among top officers, women hold only about 74 of 1,141 high management positions, noted the article.

In contrast, women seem to achieve success more easily in private business in China. The article quoted Forbes as saying that six of the world's 19 self-made women billionaires as of last year were Chinese. "In business, women advance mainly through their own abilities," said Li Chunling, a scholar at Beijing's Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "In government, advancement depends on whether your boss likes you or not."

Li said women are thwarted by a bureaucratic tradition that isn't flexible enough to accommodate women who want to take time off to have a family. Women also don't fit well into the life of liquor-fueled official banquets where professional relationships are forged, Li added.

The traditional Chinese belief that women should focus on child-rearing may hold them back from greatness in government, said Ma Haijing, 27, a graduate from Beijing's Tsinghua University. "In America, women's rights are pretty much ingrained. In China, although the slogans of women's rights are shouted, it isn't a belief held in everyone's hearts," Ma said.