Charity warns of sexism in Chinese civil service recruitment

By on 24/05/2018
Beijing: a city of opportunities - though more for men than women (Image courtesy: BOSSA Beijing).

The Chinese government is being urged to end the use of recruitment adverts that discriminate against women when filling positions in its national civil service.

The call follows the publication of a report by Human Rights Watch, entitled ‘Only Men Need Apply’, which revealed growing levels of discrimination in the wording of ads.

The charity, which fights against human rights abuses, discovered that in 2017 some 13% of China’s national civil service job list had postings specifying ‘men only’, ‘men preferred’, or ‘suitable for men’. So far in 2018, the figure has increased to 19 per cent.

A recent posting for a position at the Ministry of Public Security news department, for example, read: “Need to work overtime frequently, high intensity work, only men need apply.”

Men only

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Chinese authorities need to act now to enforce existing laws to end government and private hiring practices that blatantly discriminate against women.”

Of the ministries or local affiliates that posted at least 100 job ads, the charity found, the top violator of gender non-discrimination laws was the Railway Public Security Bureaus. All of its postings contained the requirement ’male preference’ or ‘male only’.

The National Bureau of Statistics follows in second place this year, with 56% of its postings classed as discriminatory – up 15% from 2017.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said the government will “investigate and prosecute” companies that publish gender discriminatory job ads.

Legal change required

However, Human Rights Watch said the current legal framework in China isn’t structured to deal with sexist ads.

“Although Chinese laws ban gender discrimination in hiring and gender discriminatory content in advertising, the laws lack a clear definition of what constitutes gender discrimination and provide few effective enforcement mechanisms,” the report explains. “As a result, the level of enforcement is low and Chinese authorities rarely proactively investigate companies that repeatedly violate relevant laws.”

The report also reveals that none of China’s national civil service job list specified ‘women only’, ‘women preferred’, or ‘suitable for women’ in 2017. One ad did so in 2018.

About Glen Munro

Glen Munro has worked as a journalist for a wide variety of trade and consumer titles, including the Daily Express, the Independent and the Evening Standard. Topics he has covered during his career include business issues, personal finance, travel and African and Caribbean affairs.

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