Jewish World Review April 21, 2004 / 30 Nissan, 5764

Felice Cohen

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Consumer Reports

The latest job fad:
China dolls for hire may be | With China's employment rate for college graduates down to 65%, no one seems to be getting ahead. Except for the recruiters.

"You think you're qualified for this job?" a male job recruiter might say, "I have 22 other applicants with the equivalent or better education. What makes you stand out?" The woman in the chair across the desk might smile demurely, her heavily painted eyes never leaving his. She uncrosses her shapely legs, leans across the desk and says, "Not only did I graduate summa cum laude and have three years experience in public relations, but I can drink like a fish and look killer in a leather miniskirt."

Sound like a scene from "American Pie?" Try "China Pie." For female graduates in China trying to land a job, never mind a dream job, this scene is all too real. The want-ads in China actually read, "male preferred," according to the Beijing China Daily, and it doesn't matter if the position is for an accountant or a secretary. Companies are not afraid to admit they don't want women. One woman was reportedly even told, "If only you were a boy." One reason for the explicit sex discrimination is the idea that female graduates in China are at the age that is considered the best time for women to get married and bear children. I guess in China, maternity leave begins before employment. And although there are laws in China protecting women's equal rights, no one seems to be implementing them.

"Let's take another look at your resume," a recruiter might say. "What's this? A picture of you as Ms. July? Well, yes, maybe there is a place for you here at Bumbling Brothers, Inc."

But all hope is not lost. Some employers require female applicants to submit a photo, physical measurements and eyesight. Guess boys still don't make passes at girls who wear glasses. And when preparing for the big interview, women are encouraged to spend their money at the makeup counter rather than on a new suit. Maybe they'd be better off getting their degree from Hooters U. In China it seems, the glass ceiling has become as transparent as a peep show.

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Interestingly enough, the exact opposite is happening back on this side of the world. The Chicago Daily Herald recently reported that overdoing business casual could prove detrimental to job growth, especially for women, who were cautioned, "Don't overdo makeup."

"If you don't mind me asking," the recruiter says, eying her up and down, "how does a body like yours stay so trim? Aerobics?" He then gets up and walks around his large mahogany desk and smiles, his brain already churning. "Would you be available to work late?" he asks, just inches away, as she shifts uncomfortably in her seat. The woman pauses and ponders her predicament. She really needs this job. She has rent to pay and her college loans are due. She realizes that for women in China they must forgo the job they want, for the one they're willing to give. And with that, she makes up her mind and walks out.

Comment on JWR contributor Felice Cohen's column by clicking here.


04/16/04: Stories to be told
03/31/04: Shades of gray
03/23/04: Rejoice, ‘preppy’ is back
03/16/04: Taking a bad shot

© 2004, Felice Cohen