The persistence of gendered choices of education and occupation among Chinese young women

Ching Hua Anita Koo

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


Since the market reform, an expansion of labour market and an increasingly accessible higher education system appear to offer young women abundant employment opportunities in China. Even girls from disadvantaged families or with rural background now have chances to receive vocational training before employment. Evidence also shows that the only-child policy has had an unintended consequence that girls are receiving full and equitable investments in their futures by their families, regardless of their gender. The neoliberal labour market values of human resources lead this young generation of Chinese women, despite their class circumstances, to feel that they have more power, more freedom and more agency in making more choices in education and labour market.
Under this background, this paper looks into the persistent gendered divisions in educational field of young students in vocational track. As China has become further embedded in global capitalism, these young people are encouraged to define their gendered subjectivity and individual pathways to engage actively in the market-based competition after graduation. Based on my ethnographic data in vocational schools I critically examine the gendering process in schooling to disclose the myth of gender liberation through the coupling effects of individualistic discourse and education. This paper explores how the essentialized gender discourses, the market value of gendered subjects and gendered employment shape the educational choices and aspirations of Chinese women. The “autonomous choices” among the young women and young men about taking on feminine and masculine types of work explains, and results in, the persistence of occupational gender segregation in China, which perpetuate women’s disadvantages in the labour market and in the society.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusNot published / presented only - 26 Mar 2021
EventAssociation for Asian Studies virtual conference -
Duration: 21 Mar 2021 → …


CompetitionAssociation for Asian Studies virtual conference
Period21/03/21 → …


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