<HTML><HEAD> <META name=GENERATOR content="MSHTML 8.00.6001.19019"></HEAD> <BODY> <H1 class="cN-headingPage prepend-5 span-11 last">It's still a man's world for Chinese women </H1> <DIV class="push-0 span-11 last"><!-- cT-storyDetails --> <DIV class="cT-storyDetails cfix"> <H5>Michael Forsythe and Yidi Zhao </H5><CITE>June 25, 2011</CITE> <UL></UL></DIV> <DIV id=googleAds class="ad adSpot-textBox"></DIV><BOD> <DIV class=articleBody><!-- cT-imageLandscape --> <DIV class=cT-imageLandscape><IMG alt="Defiant ... Li Rong, 34, is studying in Hong Kong." src="ctsipad-art-wide-li-rong-420x0.jpg"> <P>Defiant ... Li Rong, 34, is studying in Hong Kong. <EM>Photo: Bloomberg</EM></P></DIV> <P><STRONG>Mao's proverb that 'women hold up half the sky', has yet to be appreciated, write Michael Forsythe and Yidi Zhao. </STRONG></P> <P>Li Rong had checked all the boxes for entry into China's governing class.</P> <P>A Communist Party member and head of student government for her department at Beijing Normal University, she had an offer to join the staff at a local party propaganda department upon graduation in 1999. She said no, avoiding government service in a country where few women rise to the top.</P> <P>''Women leaders are assigned to be in areas like health and all the departments with real power over the economy will be run by men,'' said Ms Li, now 34 and studying for a doctorate in education at the Chinese University in Hong Kong. ''I don't see the possibility for a future.''</P> <P>Ms Li's experience is the rule, not the exception. More than 40 years after Mao Zedong proclaimed that ''women hold up half the sky,'' they are barely represented in the top echelons of China's government and state-owned companies, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg.</P> <P>''China is still a man's world, despite the Communist government,'' said Christina Cheung, a director of the Hong Kong information technology and travel company South China Holdings and a member of top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. ''The tradition is that women should care more about the home.''</P> <P>Since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 only two women have been appointed governor of any of the country's 31 provinces and four biggest municipalities; none serve now.</P> <P>Premier Wen Jiabao's 35-member state council has four women, while six of 21 members of US President Barack Obama's cabinet are female, including the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. </P> <P>In the past 62 years, five women have served as full members of thepolitburo; three of those were wives or widows of senior leaders. Only one woman is on the 25-member politburo now: Liu Yandong. One level down, women make up just over 6 per cent of the Communist Party's central committee, while they accounted for more than 10 per cent four decades ago.</P> <P>One notable exception is Wu Yi, who retired in 2008 as China's vice-premier in charge of international trade and financial services and served on the Politburo.</P> <P>She was ranked by Forbes as the world's second most-powerful woman in 2007, behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel.</P> <P>Among China's 120 centrally administered state-owned enterprises, a list that includes the parent companies of PetroChina and China Mobile, a woman holds the top position in one: Shanghai-based Potevio, a maker of telecommunications equipment headed by Xing Wei. Among top officers, women hold about 74 of 1141 high management positions, according to a review of company records.</P> <P>The position of women in government stands in contrast to their success in private business. Many of the world's richest self-made women are Chinese, including Soho China's chief executive, Zhang Xin, a former Goldman Sachs banker whose $2.9 billion fortune from real-estate makes her the world's 393rd-richest person, according to <I>Forbes</I> magazine. </P> <P>Six of the world's 19 self-made women billionaires as of last year were Chinese, stated <I>Forbes</I>.</P> <P>''In business, women advance through their abilities,'' said Li Chunling, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. ''In government, advancement depends on whether your boss likes you or not.''</P> <P>Li Chunling says women are thwarted by a bureaucratic tradition that isn't flexible enough to accommodate women who want to take time off to have a family. They also don't fit well into the life of liquor-fuelled official banquets where professional relationships are forged. Those who play that game are often tapped to serve as glorified hostesses to visiting dignitaries. </P> <P>It's part of a broader pattern in the Chinese workforce. About 92 per cent of China's female graduates say they are sexually discriminated against during job applications, according to a study released by the All-China Women's Federation last year.</P> <P>China's Communist Party should boost the role of women as a way to maintain its own legitimacy, said Susan Shirk, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, an expert on China at the US State Department from 1997 to 2000.</P> <P>''The CCP is so worried about shoring up support for party rule, wouldn't you think they would try to appeal to women by promoting female leaders?'' she asked. ''Chinese politics remains an old boys' club.''</P> <P><B>Bloomberg</B></P></DIV></BOD></DIV></BODY></HTML>