Women’s Work Family Conflict – Some Remarks on the Situation of Female Employees in China ( Part 1)

Nowadays, work-family conflict (WFC) is a common phenomenon of modern life in many countries and cultural contexts, and it is becoming a global hot topic. WFC (Work Family Conflict) is the term often used to characterize the conflict between the work and family domains, it is a result of the interaction between stress in the family and work domains. Different cultural context influence the mechanism of WFC differently, so there is a need to explore the variations in work/family issues in particular culture, and what the key drivers of these variations are. As the most populous nation and the second largest economy, China has attracted not only scholars but also international organizations to research on Chinese WFC. Factually, most studies have concentrated on the male labor force, while since New China has established on 1949, dramatic changes are occurring in the positions of women relative to employment, childbearing, sexual discrimination, and numerous other issues related to female liberation. Thus, it is imperative to pay attention to women’s WFC in China, such as its manifestation, its causes and its differences (compared with Germany women).

Situation of Chinese female labor market

With the economic and social development in China, more and more women are edging into Chinese labor market. At the end of 2004, the number of female employed persons in urban and rural is 3.37 billion, and 42.27 million women work in urban. At the end of 2010, the number of female employed persons in urban is 48.61 million, accounting for 37.24% of the total urban workers. As “The Global Gender Gap Index 2010” reported, Chinese female employment rate is 74%, which is higher than the global average level of 53%. Obviously, Chinese women are playing a critical role in economic development, they contributed more than 40% for GDP.

1. From table 1 we can see the situation of educational Attainment of Female Employed Persons by age. 45.8% female worker attained junior secondary education, and more than 20% have got college degree or higher level degree. Meanwhile, the female labor forces who get higher education are focused on 25 – 34 years old. In China, most female in this group are professional worker because of their high education, and 25 – 34 years old is an important period for women to get married and have babies).

             Table 1.Educational Attainment of Female Employed Persons by Age in 2011

Unit:%

(%)

Age Edu

Persons

No

Primary

Junior

Senior

College

University

Graduate

Schooling

School

Secondary

Secondary

and Higher

School

School

Level

Total

100.0

5.2

27.6

45.8

11.7

5.8

3.6

0.3

16-19

100.0

0.6

10.2

70.8

16.8

1.5

0.1

0.0

20-24

100.0

0.5

8.3

58.3

19.2

9.7

3.9

0.1

25-29

100.0

0.8

10.1

52.4

15.0

11.4

9.3

1.0

30-34

100.0

1.3

16.0

51.9

14.3

9.2

6.4

0.9

35-39

100.0

1.9

23.2

52.7

11.5

6.4

3.9

0.4

40-44

100.0

2.8

30.1

50.1

9.6

4.4

2.6

0.2

45-49

100.0

4.0

32.6

44.7

12.6

4.0

2.0

0.2

50-54

100.0

9.2

48.3

30.1

8.8

2.5

1.1

0.1

55-59

100.0

15.7

61.2

19.5

2.6

0.6

0.3

0.0

60-64

100.0

23.4

63.6

11.7

1.0

0.2

0.1

0.0

65+

100.0

39.6

52.4

7.0

0.7

0.1

0.1

0.0

2. From table 2 we can see that the number of urban women worker is increasing steady year by year. Although manufacturing still is the greatest industry to employ urban female, tertiary industry has become another main channel to absorb female labor force. There is a growing number of women participating in computer, communications, finance, insurance and other new technology industry. For example, in 2010, 7.95 million female are working in education area, and 3.79 million female are working in health social securities and social welfare area. Definitely, female labor force is an important strength in Chinese industry development.

Table 2 .Female Employed Persons at Year-end in Urban Units by Sector in 2011

 (Unit: million persons)

Sector

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Total

41.561

42.273

43.246

44.457

45.403

45.796

46.785

48.615

Agriculture,Forestry,Animal Husbandry and Fishery

1.761

1.723

1.657

1.635

1.573

1.489

1.361

1.378

Mining

1.197

1.171

1.130

1.150

1.097

1.051

1.076

1.055

Manufacturing

12.927

13.298

13.975

14.640

14.950

14.43

14.479

15.03

Production and Distribution of

Electricity,Gas and Water

0.927

0.931

0.913

0.913

0.907

0.901

0.898

0.916

Construction

1.284

1.293

1.342

1.381

1.424

1.493

1.574

1.659

Transport,Storage and Post

1.825

1.776

1.710

1.647

1.693

1.715

1.712

1.688

Information Transmission, Computer Service and Software

0.421

0.452

0.487

0.524

0.585

0.619

0.660

0.713

Wholesale and Retail Trades

2.803

2.602

2.423

2.303

2.288

2.372

2.396

2.497

Hotels and Catering Services

0.950

0.978

0.989

0.995

1.008

1.052

1.092

1.132

Financial Intermediation

1.645

1.705

1.720

1.786

1.929

2.091

2.258

2.377

Real Estate

0.404

0.449

0.483

0.508

0.560

0.585

0.642

0.724

Leasing and Business Services

0.627

0.656

0.740

0.780

0.821

0.938

0.975

1.041

Scientific Research,Technical Services and Geological Prospecting

0.707

0.703

0.716

0.749

0.756

0.800

0.856

0.921

Management of Water Conservancy, Environment and Public Facilities

0.688

0.707

0.735

0.766

0.792

0.809

0.841

0.895

Services to Households and Other Services

0.222

0.241

0.216

0.219

0.221

0.247

0.240

0.264

Education

6.728

6.967

7.132

7.338

7.477

7.594

7.750

7.950

Health,Social Securities and Social Welfare

2.845

2.922

3.009

3.129

3.241

3.368

3.549

3.798

Culture, Sports and Entertainment

0.519

0.503

0.501

0.507

0.521

0.525

0.546

0.558

Public Management and Social Organization

3.081

3.196

3.369

3.486

3.560

3.702

3.880

4.037

3. According to Art. 36 Chinese Labor Law, daily working hours must be no more than 8 hours, and weekly working hours must be no more than 44 hours. We can see from table 3, the weekly working hours of urban female employed persons. The phenomenon of overtime working is widespread in China. Although it was decreasing during 2006 – 2008, suddenly it went up to 46.1 hours per week in 2010. As the head of unit, they all work more than 46 hours per week, and the business service personnel work more than 49 hour weekly. Nevertheless, the female who work as technical personnel or clerk and related workers, usually work far less than 43 hours every week.

 Table 3.Weekly Working Hours of Urban Female Employed Persons(Unit:hours/per

week)

Group

Nov. 2006

Nov. 2007

Nov. 2008

Nov. 2009

Nov.2010

Total

45.9

44.0

43.1

43.2

46.1

Unit Head

48.8

47.6

47.1

46.9

47.2

Technical Personnel

43.6

43.0

42.6

42.4

42.7

Clerk and Related Workers

43.3

42.8

42.5

42.2

42.8

Business Service Personnel

51.6

49.9

48.7

48.6

49.5

Producers in the Sectors of Agriculture,

Forestry, Animal Husbandry, Fishery

and Water Conservancy

39.5

35.6

35.3

35.3

39.6

Production, Transport Equipment,

Operators and Related Workers

50.7

49.3

47.7

48.7

49.5

Others

47.8

43.9

46.8

44.7

47.1

At present, among 7.83 billion labor force, there are 1.1 billion female professionals,     accounting for more than 40% of the total professionals in China. The number of female senior professional title and female intermediate professional title are 0.436 million and 3.263 million respectively. Therefore, we can not imagine how important roles the professional female are playing in economic development. Moreover, data also shows that in Shanghai, professional female account for a higher proportion in the field of health, social security and welfare, public administration, education and finance. Even in IT field which is known as “Men’s world”, 33.6% persons are female. Meanwhile, in business and financial management, the proportion of women has reached 44.4%.