Chinese women have taken great strides, but many young women still find themselves caught in a dilemma. Growing up in an era of rapid economic and social development, they are more aware of gender issues than their mothers, so they feel more pressured in the traditional patriarchal society.
As an only child, they face high academic and career expectations. Many parents expect them to compete with men. But as they get older and excel in their careers, they are still expected to fulfill family duties to get married, bear a child and oversee a household.
"My parents had very high expectations of me when I was little. They said I should compete with boys. Now they always say nobody is going to marry me because I'm too competitive," says 31-year-old Zhu Xiaoling, who was recently promoted in a local trading company. "That is very confusing and contradicts what they taught me."
Her parents were not happy about her promotion. In fact, she felt denigrated. They suggested the biggest reason for promotion was the fact she is unmarried, convincing her boss that she would spend more time at work than her peers, who are mostly switching their focus to family.
"It was heartbreaking to hear this from my parents," Zhu says. "I understand their concerns, but they undervalue me and consider my work capability to be zero. That's not comforting when I face other work obstacles."
Problems include the glass ceiling.
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