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Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.
The camera shows a young woman in a sexually suggestive pose. But this isn’t some random YouTube video of pole dancing. It’s an ad targeting male programmers to join the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, as Lijia Zhang explains in the introduction to her video op-ed on discrimination of women in tech job postings in China.
The sexual objectification of women on the Chinese job market has been outlined in detail in a recent report by Human Rights Watch. It's not only that major Chinese tech companies use women to attract male applicants. In fact, some job postings list specific requirements related to women’s looks, like height, weight or voice, while others blatantly state they are for men only.
Lijia Zhang's video is a powerful critique of China’s widespread gender-based discrimination in the hiring process, in which the journalist calls out “Chinese tech companies and the Chinese government for their egregious and sexist practices.” Despite existing legal provisions against it, women affected by discriminatory job ads have few effective enforcement mechanisms at their disposal. As we learn, only three women succeeded in obtaining compensation, with each receiving 2,000 yuan only (US$300).
In case you aren’t a New York Times subscriber and you have reached your limit of free articles this month, the NYT was kind enough to upload the video to YouTube. And if you do have access and want to dive deeper into the topic of women and gender issues in China’s booming tech scene, continue with this NYT article describing one day in the life of a female “programmer motivator” recruited by a Chinese startup as a perk for its male developers.