Updated: 2016-05-06 06:54
By Cheng Yingqi(China Daily Europe)
"Male scientists do have their advantages, but they're to do with physical rather than mental ability. They can carry heavy equipment, for example."
Women have proved they have the brains for any task: they have outnumbered men at China's universities since 2009 and at its graduate schools since 2010, according to data from the Education Ministry.
Once almost entirely focused on the liberal arts, such as languages, in the early 2000s female students began to major in male-dominated fields like business administration, sciences, engineering and technology.
Today, women account for roughly 40 percent of the 70 million or so sci-tech workers in China, according to the China Women's Association for Science and Technology.
However, compared with the business world, women in science still have a way to go to catch up with their male counterparts.
According to the 2016 survey of Chinese mainland companies by Grant Thornton, the multinational accounting firm, 30 percent of all senior executives are female, higher than the global average (24 percent). Meanwhile, only 16 percent of enterprises did not have women in their top management layer, down from 25 percent a year earlier.
Academic studies suggest this could be down to women being given extra credit when they show leadership skills.
For one study, Klodiana Lanaj at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business Administration and John R. Hollenbeck at Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business recruited 181 MBA students in the US, of which 28 percent were women. They were organized into teams of five, including at least one woman, and after six weeks were asked to rate each other in terms of leadership.
The results proved a countervailing bias, showing that when women exhibited good organization, coordination and problem-solving skills they were rated higher than men who demonstrated the exact same qualities.
"When women's assertive or take-charge initiatives are in the service of a team, they not only are accepted but make a greater impression than similar endeavors by men," Lanaj was quoted as saying by Business Insider.
Li at Tsinghua University argues, however, that such a trend has yet to reach the world of science.
"When your peers review a research paper, they evaluate your work on what you have discovered. No one will consider whether this work was done be a man or a woman," she explains.
"If you are a woman who wants to be successful in science, first you have to be very strong," she adds. "As for what society can do to improve conditions for female scientists, it just needs to show more support, understanding and tolerance."
Women account for roughly 40 percent of the 70 million or so sci-tech workers in China, according to the China Women's Association for Science and Technology. Photos Provided to China Daily