Rapping to Protest Sexist Job Ad

A Chinese university student uses performance art to criticize a company looking to hire only male candidates.
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Women line up to interview for positions as flight attendants at a job fair in Wuhan, April 18, 2012.
Women line up to interview for positions as flight attendants at a job fair in Wuhan, April 18, 2012.
AFP China Xtra

A Beijing-based student has been kicking up a storm this week by rapping outside the headquarters of a company that she plans to sue over its men-only recruitment policies.

Cao Ju staged her performance outside Juren Co.'s corporate headquarters in the western district of Haidian, after she said she was told by the educational materials publisher that they weren't considering female candidates for a recently advertised job.

"Juren is very strange, only saying bye-bye to an elite candidate like Cao Ju," she rapped in rhythmic and perfectly rhymed Mandarin. "What are you waiting for? Why do you only think highly of men?"

Cao, a university student from the eastern province of Shanxi, whose name is a pseudonym, said Juren had clearly stated that the company was looking only for male candidates.

"They were advertising for an administrative assistant," she said in an interview with RFA's Mandarin service. "I sent in my resume...then I called up about it, and they told me they were only looking for men for the post."

"I made some inquiries and a lawyer told me that this was discrimination."

Cao said she had already hired a lawyer to sue Juren over their recruitment policies.

An employee who answered the phone at Juren's Beijing headquarters declined to comment on the case. "I don't really know," the employee said.

Discrimination in the workplace still presents major obstacles to equality for Chinese women, according to Chinese women and social commentators.

Chinese women face major barriers to finding work in the graduate labor market and fear getting pregnant if they have a job, out of concern their employer will fire them, a common practice despite protection on paper offered by China's Labor Law.

Overseas rights groups cite high levels of unemployment among highly qualified Chinese women, while unskilled migrant women workers are preferred by employers as being less likely to take a stand on labor rights, pay, and working conditions.

White-collar barriers

Guangzhou-based art student and fellow protester Xiao Men said the protest was aimed at provoking debate about the problems Chinese women graduates have in finding jobs, in spite of top grades and a stellar resume.

"It was very disturbing ... to see such a case of workplace discrimination," Xiao said. "We have never had such a protest before, and it shows that women are able to stand up and fight on their own behalf, using their own legitimate rights."

"That's why I came to help this woman, because I will be looking for a job myself in a few years' time."

Rights activists say that practices like those followed by Juren are still widespread in China's highly competitive white-collar job market, in spite of adequate protection against discrimination in law.

"The facts are that Juren wrote clearly for all to see in a job advertisement on its website that it was looking for male candidates for the job of administrative assistant," said Lu Jun, founder of the non-government advocacy group Yirenping.

"This is a very widespread phenomenon in China, actually."

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has promoted gender equality since it came to power in 1949, in theory, at least.

But women and rights campaigners say the reality is very different on the ground.

"In reality, they haven't done very well at all," Lu said. "Most surveys have shown that women graduates have great difficulty finding work after they finish their studies."

"Between 70 and 90 percent of female graduates have reported some form of discrimination against women during their search for work," he added.

Reported by An Pei for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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