The increasing demands of both work and home have left Chinese career women feeling in a worse state of mind than their less-well-off rural counterparts, according to a recent survey conducted jointly by the Beijing Medical University and Hong Kong Chinese University. Some 500 urban and rural women of working age, 22-55, in the Beijing area were asked questions about their health, life and work.
The result: City women were reported to be in slightly better general health than their rural counterparts (suffering less hypertension and obesity, for instance) but in a worse state of mind. Despite their superior living and working conditions, urban women complained of feeling more anxious, angry, pessimistic - even depressed -- than women living in the country.
Contributing factors cited included the complex nature of women’s more sedentary work in the city, increased feelings of responsibility as they reach higher levels of responsibility, work-place competition, less free time as well as city air and noise pollution and crowded housing conditions.
In comparison, women doing manual work in the country were found to experience less complicated and stressful jobs, less noise and air pollution, and more free time. Dealing mostly with neighbors, friends and relatives, they also faced less complexity in their interpersonal relationships, analysts said.
Beijing’s Women’s Development Plan in the 10th Five-Year Period (2001-05), acknowledges the need for government to raise health standards for women along with their participation in political, economic, scientific and cultural activities.
Meanwhile, experts urge Chinese career women to pay more attention to their mental health by being aware of the pressures they face, consulting doctors as necessary and finding space for relaxation in their lives.