UMSL China scholar discusses wage disparity with Bloomberg Businessweek

Susan Brownell, a professor of anthropology specializing in China at UMSL, recently weighed in on gender wage disparity in China for a Bloomberg Businessweek article. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Of the 20 richest individuals in China, three are self-made female billionaires. But the ranking certainly isn’t a norm. In fact, China has a growing gender pay disparity, which Chinese expert Susan Brownell told Bloomberg Businessweek harkens back to the country’s male-oriented work traditions.

The particular nature of China’s modern business landscape emphasizes guanxi, said Brownell, an anthropology professor specializing in China at the University of Missouri­­­–St. Louis. That refers to the stoking of interlocking personal and professional connections.

“Guanxi itself is such a male world,” Brownell told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Businessmen go to KTV bars and often patronize prostitutes together. It’s hard for women to share the same bonding experiences.”

According to Brownell, at least one successful female Chinese business owner has designated a young man on her staff to take male clients out on her behalf. She said the arrangement is evidence of successful women in China developing tactics to handle the male aspects of guanxi.

However, she notes that while the solution is “crafty” it’s “a depressing form of accommodation.”

To read the full article “Why China Needs a ‘Lean In’ Movement” visit Bloomberg Businessweek.

Media coverage:
China Digital Times


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