'Beautiful Girls Are Needed': Sexist Job Ads Ask for Specific Height, Weight and Voice in China

Yoko Wu uses her mobile phone as she heads to her office in Beijing, China, November 18, 2015. A report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday analysed over 36,000 job advertisements posted over the past five years and found rampant discrimination against women. Reuters

Job advertisements in China blatantly discriminate against females, with many stating "men only" or requiring women to have certain physical attributes in order to qualify for the role.

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch on Monday, gender discrimination in employment across China is prevalent. The rights group analyzed over 36,000 job advertisements posted over the past five years on the websites of Chinese companies and uncovered openly sexist hiring processes.

"Nearly one in five job ads for China's 2018 national civil service called for 'men only' or 'men preferred,' while major companies like Alibaba have published recruitment ads promising applicants 'beautiful girls' as co-workers," Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch China Director, said.

Alibaba and other leading tech companies were heavily criticized for repeatedly luring men into positions with recruitment ads that promised "beautiful girls" or "goddesses" as co-workers. Tencent, Baidu and Huawei were other major firms that also advertised beautiful women in a bid to attract more male applicants.

Throughout January, Alibaba advertised three positions that were either "men preferred" or "men only." In a statement to AFP, the e-commerce giant claimed it provides equal opportunities to all genders, adding that 47 percent of employees in the organization were women.

"These companies pride themselves on being forces of modernity and progress, yet they fall back on such recruitment strategies, which shows how deeply entrenched discrimination against women remains in China," Richardson said.

These job ads reflect traditional and deeply discriminatory views: that women are less physically, intellectually and psychologically capable than men, the report said.

Baidu, another tech company that posted "men only" job listings, said the advertisements in question were removed prior to the report's release. "These job postings... were isolated instances that in no way reflect our company's dedication to workplace equality," a company spokesperson told AFP.

The report also found that one in five jobs in government departments for China's 2018 national civil service were either "men only" or "men preferred."