It cannot be denied that China has made great strides towards gender equality in recent years. Women in modern society have much more access to education, training and employment opportunities. But regrettably, extensive discrimination against career women continues to exist.
First, women are sometimes not entitled to freedom of choice when it comes to their profession. Every year many women college graduates are turned down when seeking jobs. Some employers even put "male only" in their adverts, which leads to women being unable to choose their jobs and pursue their dreams according to their own talent and interest.
As they are not seen to be on an equal footing with men, it is even more difficult for women to compete with men. The full and complete development of a society requires the full participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields.
Second, although there is no basic difference between the competence and work performance of women in top jobs and those of men in similar positions, it is difficult for women to get promotion or to rise to executive positions. Opportunities to participate in vocational training and retraining are very often handed out to male employees.
Third, women are, no doubt, always the last to get hired and the first to be laid off. Furthermore, women who are pregnant are more likely to get fired. It may sound reasonable when some employers complain that women have the primary responsibility of child rearing and if they get promoted their new job with more responsibility would conflict with their family role. But should this be the basis for the unfair treatment of women because of the roles that they play of wife and mother?
The great contribution from women to the welfare of the family and society, as well as the social significance of maternity, cannot be overlooked. Bringing up children requires a level of responsibility from both men and women and society as a whole.
As we know, discrimination against women can be traced back to ancient times. Though there are no easy methods to eliminate discrimination against career women, it is high time that we focused on the shift of the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family.
Social services should be established to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities through the development of more facilities and services such as child-care. More measures should be taken to protect women's job security and health care during pregnancy.
The status of women in society is a pretty reliable indication of the degree of civilization of that society.
(China Daily December 3, 2001)