China Focus: Support measures help women scientists shine

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HEFEI, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Before the age of 29, Wang Jing was a weather forecaster and engineer, accurately collecting meteorological data and issuing warnings in the city of Huangshan, east China's Anhui Province.

Since turning 29, she has developed a new identity, that of mother. While she enjoys the happiness of a new mother on maternity leave, Wang can't help but worry whether the five-month vacation will hold back her career in meteorological research.

However, a new policy on female scientific and technological professionals in China has given her more confidence in her future and those of other women.

In July, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the All-China Women's Federation, as well as other 11 departments, launched a series of measures to support female researchers in playing a greater role in sci-tech innovation.


As China ramps up its efforts to help stimulate the innovative vitality of female talents, countless women are shining in various fields of science and technology in China.

"People always think female employees are not suitable for working overtime, traveling on business or enduring hardship, but in fact, we have a very strong ability to adjust and adapt," said Xie Zhilin, head of the new-product development department of the QuantumCTek Co. Ltd., a leading quantum company based in Anhui.

Xie and her team have achieved a breakthrough in key algorithms, which have been successfully applied to suspended optical cables in complex environments. At present, this product has been used in the field of quantum secure communications.

At the age of 29, Cao Lina was the first author on a paper published in Nature about a new catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells. Now, the 31-year-old is an associate researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China.

In the field of physical chemistry, where she is engaged in research, a lot of scientific research equipment is bulky, and women do appear a little short on physical strength. But Cao said that women bring certain skills, such as meticulous observation, rational planning and patient execution, allowing them to play unique roles in scientific research.


A report released in 2020 by Elsevier, a Netherlands-based research publishing and information analytics company, shows that the participation of women in research is increasing, but there is still inequality in terms of publication output, citations, awarded grants, collaboration and perceptions.

Fortunately, things are about to change in China.

The document issued by departments including the Ministry of Science and Technology has put forward 16 specific measures relating to six aspects of the career development of female talents in a targeted manner.

These measures include training high-level female sci-tech talents, supporting their innovation and entrepreneurship capabilities, improving the evaluation mechanisms for them, and supporting their research during pregnancy and nursing periods.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, China aims to create a better policy environment with these measures to aid the growth of female sci-tech talents.


"The golden age of a research career coincides with the peak reproductive period of women, and people have limited energy, which used to mean difficult decisions for many female sci-tech talents," Cao said, adding that the new policy will help ensure their career is not interrupted due to pregnancy.

The policy also aims to cultivate more young female talents through measures such as gender-equality education, encouraging female students to participate in sci-tech competitions, and setting up scholarships for outstanding female college students in science and engineering.

Another breakthrough of this policy is supporting female talents to obtain more sci-tech resources and enhance their participation in the sci-tech decision-making process.

"I believe that this will allow more women's voices to be heard at the decision-making level," Xie said.

In addition, in April, seven departments in China jointly issued opinions on implementing women's action for sci-tech innovation, with requirements including enhancing responsibility, promoting the spirit of scientists and strengthening the construction of talent teams for women.

"We need more outstanding women in science, and more companies and platforms that provide women with equal opportunities," said Xie. Enditem

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