Publish or parenting: how have women academics coped in higher education in China?

Stream: Chinese social policy: families and children
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 1.35 pm – 3.15 pm


In order to deal with the looming economic and social crisis of rapid aging, the Chinese government started to modify the family planning policy in 2013. By 2015, a two-child policy was in place. Recent data released by the National Statistics Bureau showed that despite of a small growth in the second child, the number of first child has declined significantly. There is growing concerns over why parents do not produce more children even if they have the opportunity to do so. The main concern as suggested is the unaffordable costs of childrearing and the unpaid household work. The policy suggestions include providing more affordable childcare facilities or give more financial incentives for unpaid work at home (Cook and Dong, 2011).

However, these suggestions did not address a more fundamental issue. The reluctance to produce babies is the side effect of a long-lasting production centred society in which the need for human reproduction had been suppressed. This is not only reflected in the lacking in social services, but also in the way production is organised which also shaped the priority of the families. Therefore, to study the childbirth and parenting behaviour, it is important to examine the relationship between employment on women’s reproduction.

In this paper, we used a dataset collected through an online survey with 453 women academics at childbearing age and study the relationship between their reproductive decisions and the labour contract terms. The findings suggest a significant relationship between the two.


Bingqin Li (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Bingqin Li is Associate Professor at Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. Her research is on social policy and governance. Her current projects include governance of age-friendly community, local government motivation in delivering complex social programs, social inclusion and integration, urban governance, and technological innovation and social development.

Yang Shen, Shanghai Jiaotong University
Shen Yang is an assistant professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She holds a Ph.D. in gender studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.