New era, new women
Shanghai females experience increase in marriage age, education background, life expectancy
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.