GenderIssues in Hong Kong
GenderIssues in Hong Kong
Genderinequalities are perhaps some of the outstanding issues that thesocieties across the globe are grappling with. Typically, the societyis mainly male-dominated, in which women are discriminated andexcluded from the mainstream social, economic, and politicalactivities. While the community has recognized this problem and evenundertaken different forms of measures to address the issue, a myriadof challenges that need to be addressed persist. Hong Kong lendsitself as one of the societies in which women are still facingdocumented gender-related discrimination, exclusion andsubordination. Various accounts have been offered regarding thisundesirable position. The purpose of this paper is to discussdifferent factors responsible for women subordination in Hong Kong.
Explanationof the Subordinate Positions of Females in Society
InHong Kong, women have been struggling to forge successful careers inmale-dominated fields. In many cases, men are the evaluators.Consequently, women have been devalued and evaluated unfavorably, andtreated with autocracy. Women in Hong Kong face different genderissues that are attributed to diverse factors. However, socialfactors account for a larger proportion inequality between men andwomen in Hong Kong. According to Lau, Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing andCheng (2016), women are more productive and comfortable insubordinate positions. Some of the notable reasons for this trendinclude gendered stereotypes, capitalism and power struggles in manyorganizations and society (Bettcher, 2013 Lau, 2016 Lau, Vermeer,Liu, Wai-hing & Cheng, 2016).
Genderedstereotypes transcend intellectual, cultural, social and politicalideologies that play a significant role in the subordination of womenin Hong Kong. For instance, culture brings forth requisiteimplications of control mechanism and power that are embedded indifferent Chinese cultures, which permit the exploitation of genderinherent inequities and inequality. In this case, culture refers totraditions, customs, and institutions of a specific group of peopleor a nation, a particular way of life of a group of individuals orsociety. It entails values and norms of the society, including theeconomic, political and technological aspects, as well as medicine,marriage, law, performing arts and food habits (Thompson & Baker,2014). Lau (2016) discusses that many societies believe or assumethat human thoughts are public and social and that the sociallyconstructed views are the acceptable truth.
Lau,Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing and Cheng (2016) argue that feminist`scultures tend to imprison females, leading to their subordinationbecause of the society`s patriarchal nature. Radical feminists havebeen presenting concerns on the role played by patriarchy. Radicalfeminists argue that it enslaves women, keeping them in subordinatepositions and functions. The long-term effects of patriarchy have ledmany women into thinking that it is a normal way of life. Besides,societal norms have been a threat to the rise of women in Hong Kong.Thompson and Baker (2014) note that women in Hong Kong have beenunable to challenge various unpleasant social malpractices that theyhave been subjected. Moreover, the existent social stratification hasescalated cases of women subordination by legitimizing femalessubordination.
Culturealso subordinates roles by assigning certain limiting and engenderedroles. Lau, Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing and Cheng (2016) discuss that thelong-standing beliefs that some roles are specifically for men havealso remarkably contributed to the subordination women in Hong Kong.The author further notes that in sports, subordination is evidentacross many sectors. For instance, in athletics, women only accountfor about 10 percent of all participants despite the efforts by thestakeholders to encourage more women to participate in male dominatedfields. It is also worth noting that women have been unable to engagethemselves and advance their careers because they are assignedlimiting domestic roles. However, the author notes that the effortsof women have been gaining as exemplified by an over 50 percentfemale bachelor`s degree graduates across different universities inChina, compared with about 40 percent registered at the close of the20thcentury. Besides, women represent over 40 percent of china`sworkforce. Despite these developments, Hong Kong women are stillbeing discriminated in compensation. A study by Bettcher (2013)reveals that Hong Kong women are paid 20 percent less than maleemployees occupying and performing the same roles are. Many companiesin Hong Kong prefer male directors. The ideology of the genderedprofession is still common within communication and administrativediscourses.
Capitalismand power struggles have been favoring men (Lau, 2016). For instance,in politics, women representation is still limited. Based on thestrong traditions regarded by Chinese people, women are supposed toput their traditional roles first. Consequently, men have been theone behind mega investments. The Chinese society discouragescompetition of women, a move that has given males an upper hand ingrowing economically. Lau, Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing and Cheng (2016)note that the society in Hong Kong has been lacking openness inhandling issues of gender discourse. As a result, women have beenforced to work as subordinate employees.
WhyIt is Difficult to Challenge Gender Socialization
Itis worth noting that women are actively engaged in the social andeconomic power struggles. Women in Hong Kong have been fighting to beallowed to contribute to social, economic, and political developmentcourses just like men. They have aspired to have sufficient socialfreedom. With limited social freedom, they are also agitating for theliberty of self-expression, characterized by the desire to engage insocial activities without interference from men. Women from poorbackgrounds and large families have been struggling to get aneducation and employment to improve their economic status. However,they have been facing many social and political barriers thatprevented them from realizing their goals (Thompson & Baker,2014 Lau, Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing & Cheng, 2016).
Dueto the effects of prohibitive traditional norms in the society, womenin Hong Kong have been forced to play a secondary role to theirspouses. The majority of women in Hong Kong are unable to find timeto pursue their academics and other personal goals for fear of beingcondemned by their husbands. Women have had to put their familiesbefore all other activities. Politically, less that 10 percent ofwomen in Hong Kong are involved in active politics. Nevertheless,they are not given much attention as their male counterparts. Lau,Vermeer, Liu, Wai-hing and Cheng (2016) suggest that women tend to bevulnerable to power struggles and give up easily, a scenarioexemplified by the small number of women in influential positions inHong Kong. Accumulation of chores and responsibilities has limitedthe abilities of women. Moreover, they face harsh criticism forcommitting minor social offenses than men are. For instance, the caseof Fung, Miss Hong Kong of 2016 who received mass criticism for herdeclaration to pay her boyfriend`s dowry besides bragging about hereducation record is worth mentioning. Consequently, women in HongKong have been unable to make remarkable growth economically,socially and politically (Chan& Cheng, 2012).
Apartfrom the many problems that Hong Kong women encounter in theirprofessional sphere, their private lives and domestic work are shapedand beheld by conservative social norms and expectations, whichindicates the dichotomy of feminism at places of work in Hong Kong.Bettcher (2013) notes that an ideal female raised in the Chineseculture is supposed to verse with the traditional norms offemininity. She is expected to aspire to get married to the oppositesex and uphold certain standards of character traits and beauty. Theauthor suggests that men have been holding back and censoring womenfrom embracing their alternative aspirations, visions, and ambitions.In particular, the Hong Kong communities have been reluctant toaccept identities and gender discourse. Contrary, the men-dominatedcultures, and communities have been lagging behind in appreciatingthe role of women in the society. The authors attribute this scenarioto traditional stereotypes that both genders have been raised. Forinstance, many Chinese women, like the majority of women across theglobe, believe that men are superior. The culture of women beinglooked upon as inferior is exemplified by the small percentage ofwomen holding top managerial job positions in Hong Kong firms(Thompson & Baker, 2014). Nevertheless, Lau (2016) acknowledgesthat the society in Hong Kong has been trying to improve and changedifferent social, cultural, and political stereotypes to allow womenenjoy freedom just as men do, including seeking employment, sharinghousehold duties with men, and owning property, a development thathas seen the number of successful women increase remarkably comparedto the previous decade.
Inconclusion, despite the various reforms that the society has made,Hong Kong is still largely a men-dominated society. Women continue toface different forms of social exclusion in the different sphere oflife. While many women are committed to the course of social,economic, and political empowerment, their success has been largelycurtailed by the prevailing social and cultural environment. The roleof culture in limiting women can be manifested in different ways,including stereotyping women, assigning females certain genderdefining functions and providing gender discriminating paymentschemes. These forces are further complemented by capitalisttendencies that accord advantage to men at the expense of women. Forinstance, women are not supposed to compete against males. In thisregard, there is the need for the Hong Kong society to focus theirefforts on the mentioned areas of weaknesses to create agender-inclusive community. Certainly, the stereotypes are not onlyfelt at the individual level, but also at the institutional level.Therefore, part of the process of addressing the gender issues willinclude raising the levels of awareness through education and publicsensitization programs, as well as reforming the gender policies atthe institutional level. The government should be proactive andremain committed to the quest for gender equity. Moreover, theprocess of driving change will require leadership commitment. It ishoped that such steps will go a long way in resolving the genderissues in Hong Kong.
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Lau,J, Vermeer, R, Liu G, Wai-hing C, Cheng, E. (2016), TheUnequal World.The Open University of Hong Kong.
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