Family: The Invisible Battlefront for Female Professionals in China
Lean In China, a personal and professional development platform for women, on November 7, 2016 released the 2016 Women, Work and Happiness White Paper at the Yale Center Beijing with strategic partners including Olay, Tencent and LinkedIn.
Highlighting the professional, personal and social aspirations, needs and challenges of Chinese women, the report aims to empower them to promote gender equality in both the home and the workplace.
Nearly 2000 females from across China participated in the survey and the findings are as follows.
Chinese Modern Women's Aspiration for Work-family Balance
About 70.32 percent of women consider employment and family equally important, which means the majority of Chinese women would like to keep a balance between work and family.
However, age, marital status and fertility affect the way women pursue their careers. More specifically, they tend to consider flexibility and stability when returning to work after getting married and child bearing. This contrasts with contemporary job market demands of shouldering more responsibility and challenges and thereby hinders their career development.
Furthermore, the top three factors for modern Chinese women defining their success are health (68.28 percent), family/marriage (45.82 percent) and happiness/contentment (40.73 percent) respectively, all of which are not directly interrelated with career success. This results in a contradictory situation where women are longing for work-family balance whilst their defined success factors are not directly related to their careers at the same time.
Familial Responsibilities: The Biggest Challenge for Working Women
When asked about the biggest challenges in the workplace, respondents highlighted the top three challenges: work-life balance (86.3 percent), career disruption due to childbirth (73.63 percent) and household responsibility (70.42 percent). These family-related challenges have much more influence on women's careers than other stereotypical factors including gender discrimination, a lack of promotion opportunities and a lack of confidence.
Gender discrimination is still considered to exist in the workplace. Reasons stem mainly from family including disruption by childbirth (78.51 percent) and reduction of time in careers due to heavy household responsibilities (76.78 percent).
Surprisingly, most of women denied a lack of competence in the workplace. The report indicates women who believe one of their career challenges is a lack of professional skills only account for 35.9 percent.