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Shanghai women enjoy most privileges: survey

chinadaily.com.cn

Women in Shanghai may enjoy the most privileges among their national counterparts, a new survey has found.

The survey, Sexually Different or Discriminated, was conducted between March and April by Shanghai the Women's Federation and Social Gender and Development Research Center of Fudan University in Shanghai. It collected opinions about gender equality from 155 netizens, 68 percent of whom are female.

Those interviewed scored 80.74 points out of 100 on gender equality in Shanghai, while the national score is 70.49 points. In comparison, the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, published by the World Economic Report, ranked China 69th out of 135 major and emerging economies on its ability to close the gender gap.

"Access to education, economic equality and cultural background are the three main factors making Shanghai the highest in the nation," said Xu Xiaoyin, director of the Social Gender and Development Research Center of Fudan University, also a co-initiator of the report.

Eighty percent of the male interviewees believe that Chinese women are highly respected, especially on days like International Women's Day, when female employees get at least a half day off.

But Li Sipan, a self-labeled feminist and former investigative reporter, believes the public has been too "optimistic" about the issue and invisible sexism is still prevalent both at home and the workplace.

"It's just like asking a boss if he thinks his employees are well-paid. Would he say no?" Li said.

Li, founder of the New Media Women Network in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, said every time she gives a lecture about gender equality, she is "rewarded" with stories about family violence from the audience.

The latest figures on family violence in China, released by Xinhua News Agency in 2010, showed that about 36 percent of families have been victims of violence, especially women, children and the elderly.

"On what grounds can we talk about gender equality when family violence is so prevalent?" said Li, adding that sexual discrimination is also common at work but more "invisible".

A recruiter with the municipal's government department who works on boosting regional employment told China Daily that though words like "married women with kids preferred" have disappeared on jobs posts nowadays, employers still tell them in private that they do not want single women or married women without kids.

"Women aged between 25 and 35 are the least desirable ones because they are considered ‘highly unstable', especially for jobs like secretaries or accountants, where the supply greatly outnumbers the need," as the recruiter put it.

On Sina Weibo, China's most popular social network, there is an account named "I was sexually discriminated", working as a platform for females, or males, to tell their stories about sexual discrimination.

The operator of the account told China Daily that since it was registered in March, it has received 77 letters from people who wanted to share their own sexual discrimination experiences, and none of them was from men.