Annotated Bibliography

Urban Women

Video used in presentation: Beauty in China, job fair section/ leg lengthening section.

Cramblitt, Bob. "An Interview with Ping Fu." Communications of the ACM 52, no. 11 (November 2009): 36-39. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. May 19, 2010.

This is an interview with Ping Fu who is the CEO of a processing company called Geomagic. The article touches on what she has experienced being a women who grew up under Mao Zedong rule in comparison to being a successful businesswoman in a completely different China. She says that it was a blessing that she grew up in the time before Mao because during that time women were on the same playing field with men and were truly considered equals in the workplace. She also discusses how much more incentive there is to do well for women in the workforce because they must accomplish much more to be accepted as equal to men in these days of extreme patriarchal market competitiveness. In the interview Ping Fu also brings up some interesting examples stating how she believes her female qualities have allowed her to do well in the workplace. She states that her mothering qualities have allowed her to better run the company; she doesn’t mind if her workers come to her as a fallback when things are not going right. She essentially treats her employees as children and it is her duty and responsibility to help them and discipline them when needed. Ping, who is a mother of a teenage daughter, talks about how she thinks work and home should never be separated. She is a worker fulltime and she is a mother fulltime as well. When she comes home she is still thinking about work and is in that mindset, which allows her to stay ahead in her work.

Jiang, Xinyan. "The Dilemma Faced by Chinese Feminists." Hypatia 15.3 (2000): 140-160. Project MUSE. Web. 2 April 2010.

Jiang is arguing that China has not reached a high enough level of economic development for there to be sexual equality. The author believes that feminists in China are not going to be seeing any results of great magnitude for sometime because until China reaches the level of development similar to the United States it is incapable of having sexual equality. Though, Jiang also states that U.S. has also failed to truly recognize and embody the meaning of women’s rights. Women’s rights has much less to do with formal laws acknowledging the need for these rights and more to do with the actual execution of acknowledging regarding equal opportunity and respect in the workplace and in society. Jiang also makes interesting points regarding that there should be sexual differences that are recognized such as physical strength because if it is not, that is yet another form of ignorance and discrimination. Jiang understands that this will sound absurd to Westerners who wouldn’t dare make such accusations in fear of Western feminists, but in China this is simply a plain truth. It is not just typical strength of being able to lift something up, it is tenacious strength that is being discussed in this article; also known as strength that is able to endure and not tire. For migrant workers and those who are working high physical labor jobs, this is an important issue to realize. It must be understood that the majority of women don’t have the physical endurance that most males have and they shouldn’t be discriminated in any form because of this.

Jieyu, Liu. "Gender dynamics and redundancy in urban China." Feminist Economics 13.3/4 (2007): 125-158. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 May 2010.

In this article Liu Jieyu makes arguments about what particular factors have contributed to disadvantaged women in the labor market in China. A lot of Jieyu’s information is based off of narratives from female workers in Nanjing, China. There is also a concern in the article about if women from the Cultural Revolution who were uneducated are sure to suffer from the recent and future changes that will take place in the work market. Jobs are becoming much more competitive these days, even factory jobs, hence the great population of unemployed workers in China currently. This is much different and is new to these women from the days of Mao because back then, lifetime employment, food and housing were all provided by state run companies. These companies are being compromised to methods of capitalism in order to not become bankrupt, hence a massive decrease in such benefits for workers. Women also suffer from many biases when job markets are so competitive because of the cultural views that men are looked at as most capable and should be the main “breadwinner” in a family (127). In manufacturing jobs, economists argue that women’s demand for labor fluctuates too much based off of the upswing and downswing of production demands. The women in these jobs are thought of as expendable, and are unpredictably laid off and hired, making it hard it hard for them to establish a prolonging job.

Yang, Sadie; Li, Ao. "Legal protection against gender discrimination in the workplace in China" Gender & Development 17.2 (2009). Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 19 May 2010.

Yang and Li argue that economic reform in China has led to sexual discrimination in China. They state that this discrimination has become quite normal in the workplace since the reform. Female migrant workers are of the most vulnerable out of all women in workplaces due to them being female, migrants, and commonly not as educated. The authors state that these three problems are triple the disadvantages of female workers in the urban cities (they just have their gender going against them). There are studies discussed in the article indicating that male migrant workers make substantially more than females and in the majority of the cases and it is simply because the worker is a female that they get paid less. There are also flaws within the legal system of China that don’t adhere to paying attention to gender equality and instead simply state that everyone is equal and so there really couldn’t be any discrimination based off of this legal equality. This in itself is obviously ignorance and neglect for the difference in opportunity due to restrictive gender roles in China. Just by plainly saying that everyone is equal does not account for the difference in these gender roles in China and ignores the disadvantages to women within the patriarchal system of the workplace. The authors discuss the revisions being made to the Chinese constitution and its effects and when they took a poll asking citizens if they thought these revisions were being taken seriously by the government only 30% of the citizens said ‘yes.’

Yuping Zhang and Emily Hannum and Meiyan Wang. "Gender-Based Employment and Income Differences in Urban China: Considering the Contributions of Marriage and Parenthood." Social Forces 86.4 (2008): 1529-1560. Project MUSE. Web. 2 April 2010.

This article is based on the income differences and job opportunities of workers in urban China between men and women and why these differences exist. These authors argue that married women and parents receive the biggest disadvantage amongst female workers in China due to their lack of capital regarding education, energy (since they are the ones doing the work within the house) and financially. These particular women are not able to make as many social connections as men do due to their role in the household and so they are at a great disadvantage. In China’s market it is essential to have these kinds of social connections. It is a capitalistic society where everyone is out for his or herself and so people must use other people to get what they want essentially. If these connections are not present then these urban female workers will not be able to make nearly as much progress and therefore will be much less successful. It is these expectations that devalue the women and set them at a great disadvantage if they ever plan on having a family and household to upkeep. This lack of opportunity in the article is summarized as a disadvantage of ‘time use’ due to being a wife and having children in comparison to those who do not. However, if a woman were to decide that she didn’t want a family and wanted to primarily focus on her work this would be frowned upon in society, due to how valued the dynamic of family is in China.
Since 1949 when Mao Zedong announced that “women hold up half the sky” people assumed that sexual discrimination against women had been demolished. This, however, is not the case. 2005 was the year in which the first law was passed that allowed women to take legal action against harassers and abusive husbands. The question remains, however, whether or not this institutional reform will be carried out in an adequate manner. There are deeply ingrained outlooks towards women that will take many years to change. This law is just the first step towards making women not only equals in the workplace but also comfortable in their work environments.
Although much advancement has been made to give women equal positions in the workplace, sexual harassment against women in the workplace is increasing. According to the BBC, sexual harassment continues to grow and affect women. A reported 79% of the women surveyed had experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Discrimination against women can be traced back throughout history. Traditional
ideals have enabled the existence of gender inequality for far too long. Attitudes include: societal preference for a boy over a girl child and the belief that “men are strong and women are weak” and “women are inferior to men.” Although women are presently given full equality under the law, the realization of these laws has yet to occur. Biased hiring is commonplace for reasons such as potential loss of a female employee due to maternity leave. To avoid this risk, many companies demote female employees and cut their wages in attempt make their female employees quite because they can no longer legally fire a woman for simply being a woman.
Such discrimination can be seen in China’s history with the one child rule and the recent failure of implementing new laws of women’s rights into society. New laws are being passed but not enough of a substantial difference in being made by companies and fellow workers to better the equality of women in the workplace. In most business jobs, women are required to attach a picture of their face on their resumes and in factory jobs women are being expended like pawns; hence views of women workers being viewed as of less value than males.

Rural Women

Hershatter, Gail. Women in China's Long Twentieth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Print.

This book looks at different aspects of women roles throughout the twentieth century and is a history of how women’s roles have changed over that time period. Because the role of women in China’s highly dynamic society changes so rapidly in many different areas that it is near impossible to write a book about the subject of women’s current role in Chinese society from one disciplinary perspective and because the time it would take to compile the information for such a book would render it outdated by the time it is published, the author analyze women’s changing roles based on research since 1970 and develop a comparative analysis based on that research about women in Chinese society from a number of different aspects, such as labor. The labor chapter provides an overview of the challenges faced by urban and rural women in the workforce, how labor affects their position in society, their position at home and unique challenges faced by rural and urban women demographics. The section on labor will be very useful in our research as it provides a good background history as well as pretty current contemporary information of women’s role in the workplace during the Mao era and demonstrates how this has changed in the reform era and what that means for gender equality in the workplace today as well as women’s access to education and better job opportunities, overcoming glass ceilings, dealing with harassment, rural women’s inability to do anything about injustice and other challenges they face in the new economy.

Ling-An, Wu, Yang Zhongqin, and Ma Wanyun. "Bright and Not-So-Bright Prospects for Women in Physics in China-Beijing." AIP Conference Proceedings 1119.1 (2009): 97-98. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 20 May 2010.

This article details the discriminatory hiring practices that have led to the decrease of women in the physics field. The authors state that such practices such as forcing women to retire at age 55 as opposed to 60 for men and the discriminatory hiring practices of young women (hiring women based on beauty rather than intellectual abilities or educational background) have made it more difficult for women to compete with men in this field. Also, women are seen as less valuable employees and are paid less than their male counterparts due in part to the fact that male supervisors believe that women’s family commitments will keep them from doing as good of a job as men. Though the number of female graduate students is on the rise, the number of senior female physicists is decreasing. There is also the issue of older women competing with younger women for recognition and promotions in this field. Firms tend to value younger and more attractive women, leaving most older women behind in a dead-end sort of position, where they see the ends of their careers and the opportunity for career advancement at an earlier age than men. The Chinese Physical Society in Beijing is attempting to promote the image of women as physicists and to make deals with female students to encourage them to work in physics, however it may take a while to reverse the trend. This article is important because it demonstrates how women are discriminated in the scientific workplace and how that forces them to have more qualifications then men in order to succeed in their field. This article gives an in depth look at how discriminatory policies are keeping women from high skilled fields.

MacPhail, Fiona, and Dong Xiao-yuan. "Women's market work and household status in rural China: Evidence from Jiangsu and Shandong in the late 1990s." Feminist Economics 13.3/4 (2007): 93-124. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 20 May 2010.

This article attempts to answer the question of the effects of increased rural female employment and its effects on the status of women in rural communities. The article specifically looks at township and village enterprises in the provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong. Since the reforms, women have been migrating to the TVE’s in search for wage labor. Urban women, seeing these low paying jobs as dirty, have moved on to different, more lucrative fields, leaving these positions open for rural women to take. The authors find that market hours do not contribute to higher well-being (less time spent on domestic tasks, decision making power in the household) though market wages do influence these factors and contribute to rural female well-being. Because of the patriarchal organization of the typical rural household, women are expected to do most of the domestic work and if they are also wage laborers, this could leave those women very overworked and wage labor itself may not give women an opportunity to change their status at home. This study differs from others as it looks at domestic indicators of well-being and their relation to market wages and hours worked as opposed to assuming that wages and market hours alone increase the well-being of rural women. Proponents of neo liberal ideology state that women’s well-being increases when they join the workforce, however the fallacy of this logic is that it assumes that economic gain leads to increased well being and that there is a causal link between the two. This article refutes that perspective. This article will be helpful in analyzing the way wages of young, female migrant workers impact their social standing in their communities as well as the impact of new opportunities of rural women to join the workforce on gender inequality.

Sai, Ding, Dong Xiao-yuan, and Li Shi. "Women's Employment and Family Income Inequality during China's Economic Transition." Feminist Economics 15.3 (2009): 163-190. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 20 May 2010.

This report details the changing Chinese labor market since the reform era and how those changes affected married women’s incomes over time as well as give information about women who have dropped out of the work force all together. They use these changes to then create a thesis about income inequality among urban households. They gather this data using Chinese Household Income Surveys from three different years and categorize the data based on the early reform period and the later reform period. They found that in the later part of the reform period, married women employment rates dropped, contributing to greater income inequality. This is due to the changing attitudes towards working married women and what a woman’s place should be in the household. Many middle class and upper class women are choosing to stay home because of these changing attitudes which is leading to increased gender disparity in the household. The article focuses on urban women as opposed to rural women who have different issues and do not have legal status in the three cities surveyed. This article is useful because it looks in depth at women’s employment and income inequality over the reform period. This article will provide necessary background information as well as create an argument for income inequality between men and women in urban areas. It is also gives valuable information about the sociological shift since the Mao era when women were considered more equal in the urban areas to the present where women are considered to be the homemakers and the attitudes of women dropping out of the workforce.

Tam, Melissa Y. E. "Marginalization or Empowerment?: Rural Migrant Women in China's Changing Political Economy." Conference Papers -- International Studies Association (2008): 1-35. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 20 May 2010.

This article details the changing role of women in China’s reform era. The authors focus on migrant women workers and their new opportunities as they enter cities to find work. The authors write on the changing situation brought about by the reform era and the effects of globalization and the urban rural divide on migrant rural women. The author’s thesis is that though migrant women are offered new off-farm work opportunities, they still are marginalized and treated as second class citizens in the areas that they migrate to as well as in their own communities. In their own communities they face the fact that despite leaving for the city to find work, they do not gain much in status from their labor. In the city they face the problems of having fewer choices of paid positions than men, lower paying positions, no legal rights in the cities they migrate to and harassment that they cannot fight because of their legal status. The analysis offered by the authors of this article can be used to frame the situation of migrant women in the workplace in terms of their interaction within their own communities but as well as their interaction with the cities they migrate to. This article also offers helpful examples that can illustrate what a typical migrant worker goes through to find a job and deal with their second class status using Mao era thought to frame their own situation in a certain ideological light. This is useful to us because the psychology of oppressed women tells us how they deal with day to day issues.