New era, new women

Shang­hai fe­males ex­pe­ri­ence in­crease in mar­riage age, ed­u­ca­tion back­ground, life ex­pectancy

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

China’s re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy since 1978 has mas­sively en­hanced the fam­ily in­come and liv­ing stan­dards of Chi­nese ci­ti­zens.

To present the ma­jor changes of Shang­hainese women over the past four decades, a de­tailed re­port was re­leased by the Shang­hai Women’s Fed­er­a­tion on Tues­day. The re­port an­a­lyzed ma­jor changes Shang­hai women have ex­pe­ri­enced in terms of first mar­riage age, first child­birth age, ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, ed­u­ca­tion, fam­ily roles and life ex­pectancy, Xin­min Evening News re­ported on Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Shang­hai women’s first mar­riage age rose from 23 years old in 2005 to 28.4 in 2015; also, the pro­por­tion of women with a spouse de­creased in all age groups, with a 11.5 per­cent drop in the 25-29 age group be­tween 2005 and 2015, Xin­min Evening News re­ported.

It is also note­wor­thy that the aver­age age of Shang­hai women giv­ing birth to their first baby reached 29 years old in 2015.

In the fields of ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reer, Shang­hai women tend to en­joy more high­ere­d­u­ca­tion and ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, while the pro­por­tion of fe­male post­grad­u­ates in Shang­hai’s higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions ac­counted for less than 20 per­cent in 1986, the pro­por­tion of fe­male post­grad­u­ates ex­ceeded 30 per­cent in 1996, reach­ing around 48.5 per­cent in 2010.

No­tably, an es­ti­mated 68,400 fe­male stu­dents ob­tained a post­grad­u­ate de­gree from a Shang­hai univer­sity in 2017, sur­pass­ing the num­ber of male post­grad­u­ates by 7,705. The aver­age ed­u­ca­tional years of Shang­hai women reached 10.5 years in 2015, around 3.3 years more than the na­tional level in 2015.

Work harder, live longer

Shang­hai women’s ris­ing ed­u­ca­tional level has also brought them many more ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. For in­stance, the re­port showed that the pro­por­tion of em­ployed Shang­hai women tak­ing the role of re­spon­si­ble per­son, tech­ni­cal staff or of­fice ser­vice worker rose by 2.7 per­cent, 12 per­cent and 8.5 per­cent re­spec­tively from 1982 to 2015. The growth rate sur­passed the na­tional level.

How­ever, in high-level po­si­tions, the pro­por­tion of women is still much lower than males. Though women ac­count for 51.9 per­cent of the pro­fes­sional and tech­ni­cal fields in Shang­hai in 2015, most women are in mid-level or low-level po­si­tions. Ca­reer ceil­ings for women still widely ex­ist in Shang­hai, the re­port pointed out.

Also, dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place against women has in fact been ris­ing since the launch of China’s new sec­ond­child pol­icy in 2016. Con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that a fe­male worker will be­come preg­nant not only once but twice, many com­pa­nies now pre­fer to hire male work­ers dur­ing the re­cruit­ment process.

In­ter­est­ingly, while Shang­hai women’s eco­nomic and ed­u­ca­tional lev­els have im­proved, the tra­di­tional Chi­nese be­lief that house­hold chores should mainly be done by women hasn’t changed much.

When asked whether they agree that a “man should be mainly re­spon­si­ble for so­cial work while women should mainly fo­cus on fam­ily chores” or not, the agree­ment rate of both male and fe­male in­ter­vie­wees ac­tu­ally rose from 1990 to 2010, the re­port re­vealed. While 45.2 per­cent of women were strongly op­posed to the idea in 1990, the fig­ure dropped to 20.7 per­cent in 2000 and fur­ther dropped to 15.5 per­cent in 2010.

The re­port also re­vealed that Shang­hai women’s aver­age life ex­pectancy has im­proved since the re­form and open­ing-up, from 74.8 years old in 1978 to 85.9 years old in 2017, up 11.1 years. The aver­age life ex­pectancy of Shang­hai women is six-years higher than the aver­age na­tional level. No­tably, Shang­hai women live longer than Shang­hai men on aver­age, with a life ex­pectancy gap of around five years.

This story was trans­lated by Wang Han based on a re­port by Xin­min Evening News.

Photo: VCG Page Editor: chen­shasha @glob­al­

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