THERE is still a long way to go before sexual equality prevails in Hong Kong, says one of the producers of a new book, Gender and Society in Hong Kong: A Statistical Profile. Dr Fanny Cheung Mui-ching, who is Dean of the Chinese University's Faculty of Social Science, says there has been only partial success in the battle for equality although the gender gap has narrowed over the past 20 years. While far more women have had the opportunity to be educated and to have a career compared to the 60s, many more are stuck with uninspiring, low-paid jobs than men. Even among the educated population, more women than men settled for jobs that require little skills or knowledge. According to Dr Cheung's book, a collection of gender statistics which she gathered from government departments and social organisations together with two other academics, 12,296 women degree holders were working in elementary jobs in 1991. Only 2,422 men with the same qualifications had similar jobs in that year. Also, a total of 6,637 women university graduates were working as clerks, compared to 5,841 in men. 'We don't know what the reasons are for the larger number of women in lower-level jobs; it could be because of their preference for less demanding work, time constraint or personal aspirations,' said Dr Cheung. A big gap also existed between the number of men and women in managerial and administrative positions. Figures from the 1991 Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics quoted in the book show a total of 198,857 men in those positions, compared to only 50,390 women. Among professionals, 68,516 were men while 30,815 were women. Dr Cheung attributes this to sexual stereotypes still upheld by the general public, including parents, teachers and the media. 'Statistically, women have made great strides in educational attainment and labour force participation, but many are still being held back from developing their potential by their own or others' biased expectations.' Dr Cheung, who is also director of the Chinese University's Gender Research Programme, agrees while there has been increased public attention to women's issues, sexual equality is still some way off. Many women today lack self-confidence or self-acceptance due to limited self-development, she noted. 'This has to do with the prevailing gender roles. Many women still think of themselves as being in second-place, and deprive themselves of opportunities to develop their potential,' she said. To help their wives develop, it is time for husbands to review their roles in a family, to free their wives for more activities other than just household duties, she said. 'Of course, it is a matter of personal choice for women to choose to concentrate on their family. But what is needed is more flexible roles, not sexual stereotypes,' Dr Cheung stressed. The book reveals that in 1991, when the last territory-wide census was conducted, similar percentages of men and women were educated to matriculation level, contrary to a much wider gap 20 years earlier. The percentage of women with university education jumped to 2.2 in 1991 from 0.6 in 1971. In the same period, the rate among men went up to 3.7 from two. Recent years also saw increased women's participation in the labour force, with 80 per cent of women between the age of 25 and 29 working in 1993, up from 53 per cent in 1976. Another revelation is that both local men and women are getting married at a later age. The median age for women rose to 26.2 in 1991, from 22.9 in 1971. For men, the median age was 29.1 and 28.8 respectively. Women are also giving birth for the first time at a later age, from 23.4 in 1971 to 27.9 in 1991. It took Dr Cheung and her co-producers, senior lecturer at Chinese University, Dr Robert Westwood, and researcher Toni Mehrain, two years to put together the statistics.