Family Status and Women’s Career Mobility in Post-reform Urban China


This article examines how family status affects women’s career mobility in post-reform urban China. The market reform facilitates the separation of public and private spheres, which were once integrated during the socialist era, thereby increasing tension between work and family, and making marriage and children obstacles for women’s career mobility. Analyses of the retrospective data from the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) in 2008 show that Chinese women in the workforce are more adversely affected by marriage and children than their male counterparts, and that they are more likely to withdraw from the labor force to fulfill their roles as wives and mothers and less likely to move up career ladders. This pattern was more prominent in the late reform stage (1999-2008) than in the early reform stages (1978-1992 and 1993-1998). These findings have important implications for understanding rising gender inequality in the labor market and contribute to the formulation of effective social policies to promote gender egalitarianism in urban China.