End urged to retirement-age bias

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2012, 12:00am


A member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences who is also a National People's Congress deputy from Shanghai has called for the retirement age for female intellectuals to be extended by five years to 60.

Wang Enduo, 68, said during an NPC group discussion ahead of today's International Women's Day that many women scientists were in their prime in their mid-50s and it was unfair and a waste to make them quit while men could continue to work until they were 60.

A biochemist and molecular biologist, Wang said the policy that set different retirement ages for men and women ran counter to gender equality, which was enshrined in the constitution.

'Female PhD holders usually spend more than 25 years studying from the age of six, longer than their working lives,' she said. 'If five female scientists postpone their retirement for five years each, that's like nurturing an extra PhD.'

Those who wanted to retire at 55 could still apply to do so, she said. Wang said a move towards greater gender equality would also attract more women to return from abroad to work on the mainland as scientists.

She said the retirement age of 55 for women was outdated because it was introduced in 1955, when average life expectancy on the mainland was 48.

Today it was 71, she said, and the average life expectancy for women in Shanghai was 84, about four years longer than for men.

'When women apply to work between 55 and 60, they have to get approval every year,' she said. 'Before it's approved, they are not allowed to apply for a higher professional title.

'A female 55-year-old associate researcher can't be promoted to researcher, resulting in a 'glass ceiling' that harms the career dedication of women scientists.'

In the same discussion, Wang Ronghua, former chief of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, raised the issue of a 'boy crisis', calling on the authorities to research and tackle the gender imbalance in high schools, where girls outnumber boys.

'In high schools and even universities, the imbalance of female and male students is very serious,' he said. 'At Shanghai High School, female students account for 65 per cent of the first grade in junior high school.'

He argued that the situation would mean male students missing out at an early age, creating a lack of talent in key research areas.

There was also a gender imbalance in primary and high schools, where women teachers outnumbered men, he said. 'It's relevant to the issue that male students are not masculine enough, sometimes even a bit sissy,' he added.


Year when International Women's Day was marked for first time

- First national Women's day was staged in 1909, in the United States