It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a “CDotD” entry (“Crazy Discovery of the Day” for those of you who have long forgotten), and then I learn this during a student presentation in my news class: China’s space program requires its female candidates to be married! Why, do you ask? Apparently married women are more “physically and psychologically mature.” Huh?
I’d actually think that married women might have more to lose, considering that they have loved ones far away, and may not be as psychologically equipped to venture off in such a dangerous field – or perhaps the Chinese are onto something, and someone with more to lose would be more careful? Either way, the logic is entirely baseless, and worse, there is no similar prerequisite for China’s male candidates!
And based on the single men I know, they are definitely way less “psychologically mature” than their married counterparts.
I was pretty shocked by the blatant gender discrimination, but get this — this is apparently a fairly common phenomenon in Asia. According to my teacher, married women, particularly those who already are mothers, have always been preferred for employment in China, since, being that Chinese families can only have one child, mothers clearly wouldn’t need to take maternity leave anytime soon as compared to single or childless counterparts. Further, a Japanese classmate confirmed that there is a preference for married women in her country as well (although an overwhelming number of Japanese women typically stop working after marriage). What? Why?
I’m really not sure, but what really shocked me was how blase everyone appeared to be about the matter in class (remember, my class is primarily populated by Asian students). I got pretty worked up in trying to explain in Mandarin how marital status should not be considered in employment and that it was a form of gender discrimination. Eventually the teacher suggested I just give my comments a rest, because I was merely pointing out a cultural difference that I did not understand. Huh?? I really don’t think equality is necessarily colored by culture.
Or is it? My Dutch classmate said I was just getting worked up in my typical American lawyer way, and that my shock was akin to someone suggesting that a burka was a form of female oppression (I’d say, it is and it isn’t, but that’s another entry in itself), and that I was just not being culturally sensitive here. Huh??
Sorry for all these “huhs”, but I just think it’s obvious that employment criteria for men and women ought to be equal, and if marriage makes one more “fit” for whatever reason, both men and women ought to be similarly evaluated. Am I really a self-centered imposing American here??
Upon a very brief google search on the topic, I did not find further support for this phenomenon, but I’m not sure which is more crazy — that China has this completely disparate qualification for women over men, or that no one in class seemed to sympathize with my shock over the whole matter. Can someone enlighten me? And does this mean I’ll never be an astronaut in China?