When Wu Wenjia heard that the local women’s federation was organizing a job fair exclusively for female graduates, she was excited. After all, on the verge of graduation, it is not easy to find a job especially for female graduates.
She has been turned down two times in a row by potential employers for the reason that the job was not “suitable” for female.
Wu’s story reflects the formidable barrier that women face in the job market. Experts say that although new regulations are tackling gender discrimination in employment, women still need to speak up.
In a 2011 national survey conducted by the All-China Women’s Federation, one in 10 women have encountered gender discrimination in the job market, with female graduates affected the most.
“Nearly a quarter of female graduates reported having encountered unequal treatment,” said Song Xiuyan, vice president of the federation.
The figures indicate that more than 90 percent of female students experience gender discrimination in the job market, while more than 40 percent believe it is harder for women to get an offer than men.
A job fair held recently at the National Agriculture Exhibition Center in Beijing echoed these numbers. “Men only” signs appeared frequently on employers’ stands.
“It is very frustrating when I spot a suitable job, only to be told that the vacancy is open to male applicants only,” said Zhu Qian, who graduated from Beijing Union University last year.
According to a report by China Daily in January, new regulations in Shenzhen rule that employers who discriminate against job applicants based on their gender will be fined up to 30,000 yuan. In February a new draft of similar regulations has also been released in Beijing.
Huang Yizhi, a Beijing-based lawyer, added that efforts by labor authorities to fine violators could serve as a deterrent and encourage victims to seek protection of their rights.
“The key is to pursue full implementation of these regulations,” she said.
To Wu Wenjia’s disappointment, however, the job fair was cancelled due to there not being enough employers to participate.