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Knocking on the Glass Ceiling

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Chinese women working full-time are not only longing for economic independence, they are also working for a sense of job satisfaction and fulfillment, a recent survey has found.

It shows that despite their steadily improving social status, 66 percent of working women believe men are favored for promotions and raises, even when they are capable of the same work.

Meanwhile, about 70 percent of respondents are working for companies in which women account for 30 percent or less of the senior executives and managers.

Launched by the Sun Media Group before International Women's Day, the survey interviewed more than 5,000 women through online polls, telephone calls and face-to-face talks.

"Women have come to a career bottleneck," Yang Lan, a CPPCC member and popular TV presenter, said in an interview with

"The number of women decision-makers in companies is far from enough. It is not because they don't have opportunities or they are unqualified."

Yang said the current retirement rules have created a glass ceiling for women. For instance, both men and women reach the peak of their careers in their late 40s. Women, however, are less favored for promotions since they retire at the age of 55, five years earlier than men.

"We hope society can provide an equal opportunity for women to enter senior management levels," she said.

Working women's rights to take maternity leave should also be fully respected, she said.

Another CPPCC member, Dai Xiuying, suggested that more women should be invited to State and local political bodies.

She said the proportion of women deputies and CPPCC members reached only about 10 percent this year.

Feng Ying, another CPPCC member and head of the Central Ballet Troupe, appealed for more support for female ballet dancers after they leave the stage.

"Most female dancers face a short career life," she said.

"Dancers usually start training at the age of 7 and they have the opportunity to perform on the stage when they are 17 or 18.

"On one hand, they find a lot of success on the stage, but on the other hand, they lose the opportunity to go to university or college. When they retire, usually at the age of 40, they are not qualified to do other jobs because they didn't get a university certificate," she said.

Feng, a former ballet dancer herself, said dancers of her generation worried less about life after retirement, because they would be assigned other administrative duties in the work unit.

"However, young female dancers nowadays have many concerns about finding a proper job. Some of the good dancers quit at a young age, becoming actresses and fashion designers, which provides them with more money," she said.

Feng called for universities and colleges to provide academic training programs for ballet dancers, so that they will be granted certificates and be more qualified for other careers.

(China Daily March 9, 2010)

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