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China’s Sticky Floor

May 13, 2009

A friend of mine (thanks Matt) sent over this article about the concept of a sticky floor in china’s work places.

If you are confused about the concept of a sticky floor, it has nothing to do with spittle and cigarette butts, rather it is a similar concept to a glass ceiling but for workers much lower down the food chain.

The authors claim that sexual discrimination is rife amongst China’s factories and women are unable to rise from the factory floor. Worker’s rights being a concept left for wealthy western employees.

I’m not sure that this is true though. In my experience of China, particularly of working with senior party officials, I have met many extremely powerful women. I have dealt with many companies with female CEOs and even negotiated against a fearsome female opponent who was the head of a state owned steel mill.

I am sure that the authors are not incorrect, it is just that one needs to take a step back.

I would like to see more of the study to really understand wage levels for men and women doing the same job. Perhaps they differ greatly.

However, when you look at the numbers of men and women employed in foreign invested companies at managerial level I believe that you would find a far greater number of women employed. It is a simple fact that foreign companies tend to favour women over men.

As with all surveys if you look hard enough you will always find the answer you were expecting but I do think that if we look at the economy as a whole then China is doing pretty well on sexual equality.

There is no doubt that China still has a long way to go on sexual equality but the same might be said for most western countries as well.

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