Our seventh issue looks at some of the contemporary issues related to women and work in urban China. What emerged strongly from the contributions was a difficulty women found combining work, motherhood and other opportunities, despite the fact that it is the norm for Chinese women to work outside the home. This begins before students even graduate, when they feel anxious about the probable workplace discrimination and limited opportunities they might face. It later manifests in logistical issues in continuing to breastfeed after returning to work; and it intersects with shifts in policy, China’s pro-natal culture and attitudes towards feminist groups. Questions emerge regarding the usefulness of ‘feminism’ in tackling workplace discrimination issues, whilst activists are routinely dismissed as being ‘angry’ and ‘disharmonious.’ Meanwhile, we hear from the contributors about how learning offers female migrant workers empowerment opportunities; whilst on the global stage the nation is using female labour in carefully choreographed negotiations exerting ‘masculine’ power.
The issue begins with the outcome of Liu Ye’s interviews with male and female students contemplating entry into the job market. In particular, Liu Ye observed a disconnect between the concerns that young women had relating to job opportunities, and how likely they felt it was that feminist groups could address these issues.
In part two, Lissa Crane uses gender as a lens to consider the relationships involved in philanthropy, factory work and entrepreneurship in the Chinese context.
Anqi Shen’s contribution, titled ‘Working Women, Maternity Leave and Early Motherhood: A case study on women judges in China,’ considers what workplaces could offer to better support mothers who return to work and continue breastfeeding.
Part four, by Kailing Xie explores how work and job security in the wider family network can impact on China's only ('post-80s') daughters, whilst they are under pressure to have two children of their own
The final part of this issue, written by Shujuan Luo focusses on young female migrant workers in China. The writer investigated their experiences of informal learning of life skills in urban China, their learning sources and possible empowerment opportunities.