NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
ERIC Number: EJ913061
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1938-9809
China's Progress toward Gender Equity: From Bound Feet to Boundless Possibilities
Hagedorn, Linda Serra; Zhang, Yi
Forum on Public Policy Online, v2010 n5 2010
Throughout the world, gender defines an omnipresent and personal identity. Historically gender effects have ventured far beyond the biological aspects of reproduction and deep into societal constraints of action, appearance, freedom, and destiny. Gender provides convenient labels, descriptions, and expectations. Unfortunately history provides many examples where gender has been used as a tool of oppression. The history of the world's most populous nation, China, provides a long and interesting tale of gendered outcomes. We argue that across three generations China has progressed from the gendered atrocity of female footbinding to a somewhat genderless college admissions process. The current generation of China's young women is not only able to run on unfettered feet but also have unprecedented personal options, opportunities, and responsibilities denied to previous generations. This study addresses generational change specifically through the eyes and perspectives of the contemporary women of China. Our study focuses on three generations of women; each formed by very unique cultural and political situations within their natal country. China's contemporary young adult women, born between 1979 and 1985, are typically "only daughters" of a generation of one-child families resulting from China's one-child family policy. This unique generation has grown up without the competition of other siblings. Their mothers grew up in much different era, shortly after the People's Republic of China (1949) was established. These women's lives were affected by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). On average, these women were born to large families with clear preferences for sons. Finally, we extend back another generation to the grandmothers of our seed sample who typically were in the first generation of Chinese women to be free from footbinding. The manuscript begins with a description and history of three historical milestones; each relevant to one of the contemporary generations included in this study. We then provide data showing the speed and direction of gendered outcomes. Finally, we provide a qualitative oral history study of these three generations of women in China through interviews with the young adult women, their mothers, and their grandmothers. The use of oral histories as primary sources has been promoted through several respected historical works (S. Wang 2006). (Contains 5 footnotes, 4 figures and 1 table.)
Oxford Round Table. 406 West Florida Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801. Tel: 217-344-0237; Fax: 217-344-6963; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China