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How to Fix China's Gender Pay Gap
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2017-3-20-
Title: How to Fix China's Gender Pay Gap
Author:
Source: China Daily
Release Date: March 18, 2017
Keyword: China, gender gap, pay
 
More women into the workforce makes good sense; technology is key to correcting wage disparities
 
International Women's Day reminds us to reflect on how far we've come and how far we need to go to create a working world where gender equality is the norm.
 
In the Chinese mainland, men are paid $147 (139 euros; 121) for every $100 a woman is paid. Closing the pay gap could make a substantive difference in China's economy. In China, for example, increasing the proportion of average household income earned by women by 10 percent also improved girls' survival rates by 1 percentage point and resulted in more boys and girls staying in school, according to a World Bank report.
 
One factor that helps explain the significant pay gap between men and women is that many women aren't in the paid work force full time in China. More than half of the pay gap can be attributed to women simply not participating in paid employment (52 percent). Once in the paid workplace, the difference between the hours that men and women work becomes more important. In China this accounts for another 13 percent of the gender pay gap. Typically, this is due to women being the primary child care providers.
 
However, female university graduates in China in 2020 could be the first generation to close the gender pay gap in their lifetimes, if they take advantage of three career equalizers, and if business, government and academia provide critical support.
 
The career equalizers are gaining digital fluency, leveraging career strategies and immersion in technology. With these changes, the pay gap in developed markets could close by 2044, shortening the time to pay parity by 36 years. In developing markets, the changes could cut more than 100 years off the time to reach pay parity, achieving it by 2066 instead of 2168.
 
Accenture, a global professional services company, surveyed more than 28,000 women and men, including undergraduates, in 29 countries for its Getting to Equal 2017 report. Our research found that women in China are on the right track - particularly compared with their peers elsewhere in the world - when it comes to preparing to climb the ladder. For one, the digital capabilities of male and female undergrads in China are fairly equal - 96 percent of the undergraduate women surveyed in China said they had taken computing or coding module classes (versus 100 percent of the surveyed men). And 73 percent of the female students said they think they adopt new technologies quickly, compared with 79 percent of the men.
 
These are positive signs. To maintain this momentum, China's younger women need to leverage their digital fluency to connect, learn and work. Those women who have already graduated and maybe aren't digitally up to speed need to take courses to get there. They need to gain additional tech expertise from deeper digital instruction in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), coding and computing to acquire the skills necessary for advancement.
 
Then, women should focus on a career strategy that encourages them to aim high, make informed choices and manage their careers proactively.
 
It is a good sign that so many of China's female undergraduates say they have mentors. More female students in China say they have mentors than men, (59 percent and 56 percent, respectively). Guidance and support from governments and employers makes all the difference.
 
China's government is a step ahead of many nations in its support. Consider the commitment to high-speed internet. China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), issued by the State Council in December, calls for more resources to be applied to the development of cutting-edge information technology, including 5G wireless systems and the development of the internet of things, all of which could help women leverage digital in the workplace and in achieving a work-life balance.
 
But mainland businesses must also step up their game. Business managers need to understand the dynamics that are attracting nonworking women back into the workforce, and which are creating an environment where high-performing women want to stay with their current employer.
 
These working environments - with an emphasis on flexible work and empowered by digital, mentorship programs, lifelong learning and training, and transparency and benchmarking around salaries - will become competitive differentiators.
 
Getting more women into the workforce is pure and simple good sense for business and government, and should be a priority for everyone.
 

Chuan Neo Chong is Accenture's Greater China Chairwoman. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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