Domestic Affairs

Driving talent out

By Linda Gibson (
Updated: 2010-08-11 14:52
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In the midst of efforts to attract talented people to Beijing and make it a world-class city, employers engage in practices that discourage talented people from even applying for jobs here.

For example, an acquaintance who taught English at the University of Science and Technology sought a better-paying job closer to the city center. The demand for English instruction is so strong, you would think finding such a job for an experienced teacher and native English speaker from Canada would be easy, right?

Wrong. She was turned down from even obtaining interviews for jobs because she wasn't "white" enough. The only physical hint that her background includes a Japanese mother (something entirely unrelated to her qualifications) are her eyes.

Since the configuration of her eyelids caused employers to disregard her credentials, she went back to Canada.

The artificial barriers don't stop with whiteness. Employers reserve the best jobs for men. They also routinely include in their job ads for women irrelevant demands for a desired height and "attractiveness" for jobs that can only be accomplished with skills and education.

These employers display ignorant, condescending attitudes towards women.

Even worse, by rushing to plastic surgeons to improve their job prospects, young Chinese women lend credence to such attitudes and seem to condone discriminatory practices that punish them.

Apparently, someone needs to tell Chinese employers that their archaic attitudes and practices towards Chinese women reveal a lack of modern managerial thinking. It's no coincidence that the least developed countries are places where women suffer grotesque inequality socially, politically and economically.

The fastest way for China to develop into a modern, powerful and prosperous country is to quit holding back a vast pool of currently underused talent–its women.

Chinese women, when allowed to make full use of their abilities, will be all Beijing needs to boost itself into the ranks of genuinely worldly cities, and that will attract talent from overseas without special programs.