As Mao Zedong famously said, “women hold up half the sky.” International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to shine the light on China’s women, taking a macro look at the progress and challenges facing the country’s female population.
Here are five things you might not know about women in China:
Most of the richest self-made women in the world are Chinese
The Hurun Research Institute and Mini World today jointly released the Hurun Richest Self-Made Women in the World 2019, a list of the self-made women billionaires in the world.
‘China Property Queen’ Wu Yajun, 55, takes title of Richest Self-Made Woman in the World, on back of 13% rise in wealth to US$9.8 billion.
89 self-made women billionaires found in the world, more than double that of 5 years ago, but down 13 on last year.
57% from China, down 6% from last year, but still far and away the Number One in the world, three times as much as the USA. UK came in third.
‘Touchscreen Queen’ Zhou Qunfei, last year’s number One, dropped down 13 places to 14th, losing 63% of wealth to US$3.4 billion on back of share price fall.
Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai Top 3 preferred cities for world’s richest self-made women. 5 of Top 6 cities for world’s most successful women in business in China.
‘Hot Pot Queens’ Shu Ping and Li Haiyan of HaiDiLao and ‘Soya Sauce Queens’ Cheng Xue, 49, and Li Xuhui, 51, of Haitian amongst fastest risers
New faces led by ‘Polyester Queen’ Fan Hongwei, 52, straight into the Top 10 with US$3.9bn, followed by Lu Zhongfang, 77, of China civil service examination training platform Offcn.
4 of the 5 youngest self-made women billionaires from China, led by 38-year old China entertainment investor Wu Yan, with US$1.3bn.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, granddaughter of L’Oréal founder, is the world’s richest woman with a fortune of US$49 billion. Of the 20 richest women in the world, 19 inherited and only one, Wu Yajun, is self-made. Of the 20 richest men in the Hurun Global Rich List, 14 are self-made.
Manufacturing is the main source of wealth, despite losing 6 billionaires last year, followed by real estate, retail and tech.
Two of the Chinese are delegates to the National People’s Congress (Chen Ailian) or CPPCC (Zhou Qunfei).
Chinese women made up 57% of Hurun’s Richest Self-Made Women in the World 2019 list, followed by women from the US at 18% and the UK at 6%. Chinese women have been topping this list for years, and that doesn’t look ready to change anytime soon.
The tertiary education gender gap in China has closed – the gender pay gap has not
In 2016 over half of tertiary graduates in China were women according to The World Bank, and in the following year the OECD found that an equal percentage of Chinese men and women aged 25-34 had a tertiary education. But what happens after graduation? Equality in pay is still far from the reality in China – a report by the World Economic Forum showed that Chinese women receive 36% less than men on average for the same type of work.
More people in China agree with the statement “Achieving equality between men and women is important to me, personally” than in almost any other country
An Ipsos poll conducted last year on global misconceptions of equality found that 82% of Chinese people agree with the statement “Achieving equality between men and women is important to me, personally”, trailing only Peru in percentage. At the same time, the poll highlights a hesitancy toward discourse on issues like sexual discrimination and harassment in China.
China has one of the Asia-Pacific region’s highest rates of labor force participation for women – but it’s declining
According to the International Labor Organization, 61% of Chinese women were participating in the labor force in 2018, but that percentage has been declining since before the ’90s. A report by the Asian Development Bank shows that reasons for the decline include a widened gender wage gap, lack of childcare options, diminished employment opportunities or women, and a resurgence of traditional stereotypes about women’s work.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has made advances in narrowing gender gaps in its labor market. It has one of the highest female labor force participation rates in Asia and the Pacific at around 64% in 2013, and one of the narrowest earnings gender gaps. This study investigates how women are faring in the transition to the PRC’s new growth model, and what can be done to promote women’s participation. It shows how the PRC is undergoing multiple transitions that have implications for gender equality and work. For example, during the market transition, gender wage gaps and gender wage discrimination increased, reaching 33% in urban areas and 44% in rural areas. Find out how evidenced-based gender analysis can foster gender responsive policy approaches to promote women’s equality in the labor market.
Women in China contribute more to China’s GDP than those in most other countries
The 2017 Impact of Women in the Workplace in a Digital Age report and 2015 statistics on Statista show that 41% of China’s GDP is contributed by women – a higher percentage than almost anywhere else in the world.
Chinese women contribute more to gross domestic product than their counterparts around the world, according to a report by Deloitte China and women’s professional support network Lean In China.
The 2017 Impact of Women in the Workplace in a Digital Age report shows that Chinese women make up 41 percent of GDP, more than any other country, the Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily reported. They were also more ambitious and showed deeper emotional intelligence, with 78 percent hoping to get into workplace management.
The female labor force participation rate in China is about 63.3 percent, meaning almost two-thirds of the country’s women are available to work, according to the report. The figure for China is higher than the average across member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (57 percent) and Asia-Pacific nations (62 percent).
The higher the degree of digitization in a company, the more likely it is for women to devote more time and energy to the business, the report shows, but indicates that as women rise to higher positions within companies, they face greater challenges than men in terms of work-life balance. The organizations suggest firms make more job roles suited to female career development.
The report aims to study the leadership and influence of Chinese women in the workplace. Through questionnaires, data analysis, case studies and in-depth interviews, the account examines the status quo and development trends among working Chinese women and makes suggestions on how to promote career development for females and gender diversity.