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China's Top Employers Routinely Publish Sexist Job Ads, Study Says


OK, the Me Too movement has spotlighted sexual harassment in the workplace, but what about discrimination before you get the job? A new report finds that China's top employers routinely publish sexist ads. NPR's Rob Schmitz reports.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: After Human Rights Watch analyzed more than 36,000 job postings over the past five years in China, it found gender discrimination across employers from both state and private sectors.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Speaking Chinese).

SCHMITZ: In an online job recruitment video for male technicians posted by Alibaba, China's largest Internet company, the narrator says chosen candidates will work with a staff of beautiful women. This is followed by shots of female employees of the company saying how much they love to work with tech guys.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Speaking Chinese).

SCHMITZ: "The most important thing is that he treats me well and that he's handsome," a young Alibaba employee gushes. She manages to say this while pole dancing.

MAYA WANG: I mean, on the one hand, as a woman, I kind of felt like, you know, just quite disgusted.

SCHMITZ: Human Rights Watch's Maya Wang says top Chinese tech companies like Baidu and Tencent posted similar ads all promising that male employees would work with beautiful women and, quote, "goddesses."

WANG: I think it tells you that the problem is fairly common and widespread and quite accepted as a practice that they didn't even think twice or didn't think that it would kind of create any pushback or uproar.

SCHMITZ: Last year, Tencent apologized for footage of an annual company outing showing female staff kneeling, appearing to use their mouths to open water bottles tucked between the legs of their male co-workers. Tencent and Baidu have both apologized in the wake of this latest report, and Alibaba defended itself, saying that nearly half its employees are women and that women occupy a third of its management positions. But Wang says until China's government starts cracking down on gender discrimination, something she says it does not do, this type of discrimination will continue in the world's second largest economy. Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.