Graduates are terrified of becoming '3S ladies'

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The prospect of being categorized as a "3S lady" haunts female university graduates in Shanghai, a recent survey shows.

A "3S lady", which is defined as someone who is single, (born in the) 70s and stuck, is used to refer to an independent and educated woman around the expected age of marriage who is still single.

According to a survey carried out earlier this month by the journalism school at Fudan University among more than 900 female university graduates from 17 universities, over 70 percent of the respondents are afraid of becoming "3S ladies".

They believe that the failure of the "3S ladies" to find a partner is either due to their limited social network or their strong personality, or because they are too busy to date or are more capable than their male counterparts.

While Chinese women have traditionally been labeled as the weaker sex, modern female white-collar workers and other successful career women have challenged that notion by carving independent paths for themselves in society.

"3S ladies often value career success above their personal lives. Their personal excellence and high standards leave them in a catch-22 situation in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which weakens their chance of finding potential husbands," said Liao Shengqing, head of the communication department in the journalism school at Fudan University.

For "3S ladies" who have failed to find companions, being single involves the contradictory feelings of being free, though lonely at times, especially when their female friends go on dates, get married and have families.

"I got used to being single and free, although I feel lonely from time to time," said Wang Min, a 32-year-old civil litigation lawyer who hopes to get married when the time is appropriate.

Chang Tongpei, a 39-year-old senior editor of a local magazine, is another typical example of a "3S lady". She has had a strong desire to get married since she was young, but has yet to meet the right partner.

"All of my previous boyfriends knew that I was looking for permanent relationships - marriage. Unfortunately, none of them wanted to marry me either because they were not ready for marriage or thought I was too independent and sober-minded," Chang said.

As women tend to become successful in their careers earlier than men, Liao said he was unable to see an end to the plight of "3S ladies". They may, indeed, be stuck.

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