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Gender Inequality in Work and Education in the Mao Era

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Xiaolin Zhuo

on 15 October 2013

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Transcript of Gender Inequality in Work and Education in the Mao Era

Gender Inequality in the Mao Era
Xiaolin Zhuo
October 15, 2013

Education and Work
Women concentrated in certain occupations (e.g. light industry, services, and clerical) and were underrepresented in others (e.g. heavy industry and managerial positions)
The jobs that women hold were generally paid less than the jobs men hold
What is unique about China is the distinction between state and collective enterprises which resulted in a formally institutionalized dual economy. Women are more likely to be employed in collective enterprises
Much, but not all, of the gender wage gap was explained by occupational sex segregation and women's lack of seniority
Labor Force Participation
Occupational Sex Segregation
Gender Wage Gap
Women
in Production

Source: Whyte, Martin King. 1984. “Sexual Inequality under Socialism: the Chinese Case in Perspective.” Pp. 198-238 in Class and Social Stratification in Post-Revolution China, edited by James L. Watson. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Source: Whyte, Martin King. 1984. “Sexual Inequality under Socialism: the Chinese Case in Perspective.” Pp. 198-238 in Class and Social Stratification in Post-Revolution China, edited by James L. Watson. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Source: Walder 1984; Whyte 1984
The East vs. the West
Socialist China had more labor force participation, and perhaps as a consequence of this greater mobilization, more women in higher education and less occupational segregation.
However, China and the west were very similar in terms of relative wages, political participation, and household chores, meaning that fuller labor force participation does not necessarily translate into greater equality.
This also calls into question socialist liberation that gives women more work outside the home without alleviating their domestic responsibilities.
Gender Inequality in Education at the National Level
Source: Lavely, Xiao, Li, and Freedman 1990; Whyte 1984
A Closer Look ...
Strong convergence of the sexes for enrollment in primary education due to expanded opportunities in primary education
Far less change at the higher levels because of the relatively little sexual inequality in progression at higher levels historically
Gender inequality in educational opportunity decreases with the level of education also because of lower sex bias in cities where higher education mainly takes place and the direct control of higher education by the government
Gender is a determinant of entry into school along with father's education and residential location
Source: Lavely, Xiao, Li, and Freedman 1990; Zhou, Xueguang, Phyllis Moen, and Nancy Brandon Tuma. 1998. "Educational Stratification in Urban China: 1949-94." Sociology of Education, 71(3): 199-222.
Why There Exists
Gender Inequality in Work?
Family
Any theory that does not equally consider women’s position in reproduction and production will be flawed, and equality must take place in the reproductive sphere (Beneria and Sen 1981)
Employed women bear the double burden/second shift, and the situation was worsened by the low standard of living in China (Whyte 1984)
Culture
Tradition of patriarchy and inferiority of females
"Socialism and patriarchy can exist in stable harmony" (Wolf 1985)
Female devaluation reinforced by state policies, e.g. patriarchal household was preserved during land reform and decades of collectivization
Discrimination - females as less ideal workers due to their reproductive roles and stereotypical belief in their lack of strength, skill, and intelligence (Walstedt 1978)
State
Source: Beneria, Lourdes and Gita Sen. 1981. "Accumulation, Reproduction, and Women's Role in Economic Development: Boserup Revisited." Signs 7(2): 279-298.
Source: Robinson 1985; Whyte 1984; Wolf, Margary. 1985. Women in Contemporary China. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press; Walstedt, Joyce Jennings. 1978. "Reform of Women's Roles and Family Structures in the Recent History of China." Journal of Marriage and Family 40(2): 379-392.
Cultural Revolution
and
"Iron Girls"
Chang, Mariko Lin. 2000. "The Evolution of Sex Segregation Regimes." American Journal of Sociology 105(6): 1658-1701
Source: Honig 2000
“Rather than blaming feudalism or China’s lack of development, I suggest that contemporary political and economic decisions have reinforced sex inequality in China” (Robinson 1985:32)

E.g. state vs. collective enterprises, contract responsibility system in rural China, one-child policy, and cultural revolution
E.g. economic slough vs. Great Leap Forward (Honig 2000)
Gender
A Stalled Revolution?
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