To examine the Impact of Social Media Freedom on Chinese Female’s Rights in Struggling Workplace Discrimination
For many years, gender-based discrimination that women employed in various companies in China have never been given enough attention in the mainstream media. Probably, it is due to the fact that there is stiff government regulation of media in China. However, the advent of social media with the relative prevailing freedom has helped airing out issues such as women being discriminated from promotion is the companies that they are working, sexual harassments they go through from their bosses, and lack of equal treatment on salaries. Therefore, this study seeks to examine the impact of social media freedom in fighting against gender discrimination at the places of work. A number of studies that have been conducted on this subjected on this area have pointed out the fact that various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and TikTok have played a crucial role in promoting gender equality and at the same time fight gender discrimination in every sphere life; such as fighting for equal salaries between men and women, fighting for women’s political rights. #MeToo has been pinpointed out as one the successful campaigns that have been conducted in China via Weibo that was geared towards the issues about gender discrimination and equality. Therefore, in general the studies have shown that social media has had a positive impact in championing gender rights at the places of work. For instance, majority of the respondents, in fact 80% of the respondents have agreed that social media platforms have had a positive impact in fighting gender-based discrimination as well as fighting for gender equality in the society. For instance, In China where there are restrictions on the mainstream media, social media platforms such as Weibo have had immense positive impact on championing and sensitizing the members of the society especially Chinese women to fight for their rights, and that they should not fear speaking out against gender discrimination. Nonetheless, there were other respondents who argued that social media has not been successful in fighting gender-based discrimination against Chinese women at their places of work. There were other respondents who shared their personal passed experiences from the social media. They argued that their posts concerning gender-based discrimination subjected them to ridicule and cyber bullying.
Keywords: Gender, Discrimination, social media, Workplace, Women.
Table of Contents
In recent decades, Chinese women have to a bigger extent raised their voices on issues that are related to their rights and gender equality such as in leadership, equal treatment in their places of work, and even in political offices, in comparison to previous decades (Lindberg, 2021). Availability of social media has a provided a platform for Chinese women to raise social and economic discrimination that they go through at their various workplaces, for instance, sexual harassment, ignored from being promoted to high levels despite qualifications, and exclusion from managerial roles although they are qualified.
According to Lindberg (2021), Gender inequality issue in China can be traced back to the years of Confucianism that was between 6th and 5th Centuries, when China was known as a patriarchal society, a society where women were only viewed as second class human being. Men and boys were highly regarded over women and girls, as a result women suffered a lot of social injustices ranging from sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and exclusion from decision making (Lindberg, 2021).
Jue (2019) opines that traditionally, boys have been regarded over girls in the history of China, because they were viewed as being capable of providing for, and defending the family. In fact, preference for boys over girls in China was further worsened by the One-Child Policy that was adopted in 1979, to control growth of population. As a result of One-Child policy, women were forced to abort female foetuses so as to avoid having female children (Jue, 2019). However, in 2015, President Xi Jinping made a pronouncement that led to abolition of the One-Child Policy, and more laws were enacted to champion for gender equality in every sphere, including places of work.
Despite draconian policies that have hindered gender inequality among women, feminists have taken advantage of various social media platforms, such as Weibo, to champion for women’s rights at their places of work (Lin & Baker, 2019). Lin and Baker (2019) further pontificates that although there is limited social media freedom, various women have taken advantage of the platform to air out injustices and discrimination they face at their places of work. Advent of social media platforms such as Weibo, cases such sexual harassment, inequality in promotion, wage and salary parity, and leadership; have reduced significantly (Lin and Baker (2019). According to the report of 2018 by the Global Gender Gap, it was revealed that only 68.8% of women were employed, as compared to their male counterparts at 82.2% (Wu & Dong, 2019). Various Chinese social media platforms like Weibo have played a key role promoting gender equality at various places of work, for instance there are people who have posted how they were sexually harassed, how they are under paid as opposed to their male counter parts whom they are working with in the same department and more qualified than being paid better than them, and also how women are being discouraged from demanding promotion higher managerial positions in the company.
Therefore, this research study aims at Impacts of Social Media Freedom on Chinese Female’s Rights in Struggling Workplace Discrimination.
For many years, Chinese women have faced numerous forms of gender discrimination such being ignored for promotion despite discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair salary and wages, and being subjected to poor working condition in companies where are working from. Despite the fact that there are various laws that have been enacted to protect women from such kind of vices, still women are facing discrimination in terms of promotions, and remuneration (Chen, Zhang & Xia, 2021). However, Social Media Platforms such as Weibo and TikTok have enabled women to report and share ordeals they are facing at their places of work. Through sharing their ordeals with their followers on the social media, some of those women have been able to get help from the governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations set to fight gender discrimination and injustices in companies; such as being left out in decision making, being poor remuneration, lack of promotion, and sexual harassment. Chen, Zhang and Xia (2021) point out that since mainstream media in Republic of China overly controlled by the government, accessibility of internet has provided an ample platform for the feminists to air out gender inequality and injustices that women are subjected to in their places of work. Social Media has created a platform for women being maltreated at work to share their ordeals with the public. According to Liu (2016) social media freedom being enjoyed in China, Chinese people are able to share any form of gender inequality with the rest of the world within a short period of time. Liu (2016) further points those social media platforms like Weibo that works more or less the same as Twitter and Facebook, and Youku that works like YouTube, have made it easier for Chinese to share videos with the people of China, government officials, Chinese women’s lobby groups fighting and gender discrimination. For this reason, the researcher seeks to analyse how social media freedom has helped employed Chinese women to share with the rest of Chinese people and the rest of the world the injustices or discriminations they face in those places of work.
In most of Chinese organisations, women have been subjected to a number of heinous injustices ranging from sexual harassment, discrimination based on gender, unequal remuneration, and discrimination during promotion to higher levels. Liu (2016) opines that due to censorship and strict control that the Chinese mainstream media is undergoing, most of those mainstream media have shied away from covering the issues that are related to gender inequality and discrimination female employees in their places of work.
Theoretically, Feminist Theory has also supported the idea of fighting gender inequalities and injustices that women are normally subjected to in their various places of work (Liu, 2016). Liu (2016) further portends that Feminist Theory portends that in a patriarchal society like China, men’s contribution is always viewed as valuable as compared to those of women. Furthermore, the theory elucidates that viewpoint from women are always silenced and marginalized to patriarchy, to the point they are being overlooked at their places of work (Liu, 2016). Therefore, this study seeks investigate the impact of social media freedom in championing for the rights of women in organizations they are working for. In summary, the main aim of the research is to examine how Chinese female employees make use of social media to protect their rights at their places of work. On the other hand, the specific
- To determine impacts of social media platforms such as Weibo, TikTok, and YouKu in fighting the gender discrimination in workplaces
- To examine if Chinese working women share their ordeals at workplace on social media
- To determine how people especially friends or followers on your social media account respond to posts concerning gender discrimination experienced at work place.
Below are some of the questions that the researcher seeks to answer:
- How has the relative freedom of media contributed in fighting gender disparity among Chinese women at various places of work?
- How often do working-class Chinese women do share their work place ordeals on their social media accounts?
- How do people on Weibo or TikTok do respond to posts about gender disparities at work places?
- Has Social Media platforms in the China been impactful in promoting gender quality at places of work?
Research Rationale of this study has two main aspects; theoretical and practical aspects. Concerning theoretical aspect of the study, the researcher confirms that indeed there are a number of studies that have been conducted to examine the impact of social media in fighting gender inequality in the society, and by extension in places of work (Ahmed & Madrid-Morales, 2021; Blake et al., 2018; Eikhof, 2012; Garcia et al., 2018; and Rauniar et al., 2014). Nonetheless, despite numerous available studies concerning impact of social media on promoting gender equality in the society, very few of them have sought to analyse how access to social media has enhanced the rights of women, with a case study of working-class women have been encountering at their various workplaces. Furthermore, a few of them have attempted to analyse to analyse the positive impact of social platforms such as Weibo and TikTok in seeking gender equality at work places. As such, the study about positive impact of social media in providing the voice to women who are being maltreated at their various places of work to share their suffering with the public is theoretically meaningful.
Concerning practicality aspect of the research topic, the findings of the study would help majority of Chinese women being maltreated at their places of work to realize how powerful Weibo or Tik Tok are. Moreover, findings of the study would be helpful to students and other researchers who would be interested in researching about the impact of social media on promoting gender equality. Lastly, the study would provide other researchers as well as students with information on the areas that would require further researches on the topic being examined.
The aim of the study is to examine Impact of freedom of social media in championing for women’s rights against discrimination in companies they are working for. To achieve this aim, the dissertation paper is organized into five main chapters. To begin with, Chapter of the dissertation paper introduces the research topic, and it contains the research background, rationale of the research, research aim and objectives, and Research questions. Chapter Two of the paper addresses the literature review, such as; (Ahmed & Madrid-Morales, 2021; Blake et al., 2018; Eikhof, 2012; Garcia et al., 2018; and Rauniar et al., 2014). In Chapter Three, the research will discuss various methodological procedures to be followed in gathering of data. Those methodologies include; Interview of participants, qualitative technique, interpretivism philosophy, and ethical procedures like keeping the participants anonymous. In Chapter Four, the researcher would analyse the data collected through interviews administered to 10 respondents whom were mainly employees of different organizations in China. The interview questions were delivered to the respondents through their email addresses. The Interviewees were issued with various codes such as X, Y, A, B, C, D, U, V, W, Z. It suffices to note that the codes were given to the respondents to ensure their anonymity, while at the same time ensuring that they are properly classified to enable for easy identification. Additionally, when analyzing the findings, the key objectives of the study would be considered, which include; Examining impact of social media platforms in fighting gender discrimination places of work; to examine if working Chinese women share their ordeals at workplace on social media, and to examine how people respond to gender discrimination issues posted on social media platforms. Finally, Chapter Five presents’ recommendations, study limits, areas that require further studies, and conclusion. For instance, further studies with a larger sampling size gathered through questionnaires ought to be considered. It has also been recommended that the future sample should include both men and women because to avoid skewed findings. Conversely, the study has concluded that there is positive impact of social media in fighting discrimination against Chinese women in places where they are employed.
Chapter Two of a dissertation paper is mostly concerned with reviews of both the past and current literatures so as to support the research objectives as well as guiding data collection process (Kamble, Gunasekaran & Gawankar (2018). To gain understanding of the research objectives, the researcher of the topic conducts a comprehensive and critical analysis of both the past and present literatures concerning the area of study. For instance, the purpose of this is to examine the Impact of freedom of social media in championing for women’s rights against discrimination at work place. As a result, the first part of the literature review is concerned with Impact of social media in Promoting Gender Equality. Secondly, Success of social media in fostering gender Equality. Thirdly, how often people post cases of gender discrimination of on social media. Finally, Nature of responses people give to posts geared towards fighting gender equality on social media. Finally, Theoretical framework of the study would be discussed in Chapter Two. The chapter will now then conclude with chapter summary of various literatures discussed.
According to Rauniar et al. (2014), social media through its various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, YouTube, YouKu, Instagram, and TikTok have transformed the mode of sharing information between different people across the world. A part from its use as a tool for social networking, social media has enabled anyone who has a device that can access internet to share contents and opinions with a larger audience globally. Rauniar et al. (2014) explicates that with a lot of restrictions and high costs involved in using mainstream or traditional media platform, the availability of social media has enabled individuals in the society to share their ordeals or ideas with the larger audience across the world at a near free of any cost. According to European Parliament (2013), platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, have provided a platform for various organizations in the society such as activists and feminists throughout the world to share live events with the larger audience not only in China, but internationally. In nutshell, through sharing of such events, people have been able to get help from different quotas. For example, through posts on social media platforms different non-governmental organizations have assisted some of the victims of gender discrimination such as being under remunerated at the place of work.
Further, Blake et al. (2018) pontificates those women’s organizations that fights gender inequality everywhere including places of work have moved quick to take advantage social media. Through social media, women’s rights movements have taken the availability of social media to raise awareness against gender discrimination and injustices that women face. As reported by the European Parliament (2013), during an online discussion dubbed “Wikigender” most of the participants stressed on the benefits or importance of allowing gender activists to connect with one another and other people across the world at a very low cost in terms of money, and risk of losing job. In addition, in the recent past there has been influx or surge of female bloggers that represent major audience to break long established stereotypes and have helped in advancing gender quality issues (European Parliament., 2013). Through such platforms, women who have faced all sorts of discrimination and in justices at their places of work have gotten platforms to share their ordeals. For, instance women who have been subjected to sexual harassments, discrimination against salary increment, discrimination against promotion at work despite their qualifications; have used social media platforms to share their ordeals with the members of the public (Ahmed & Madrid-Morales,2021). Through sharing, those women have been able to get help and justice from the social media audiences throughout the world.
Ahmed and Madrid-Morales (2021) elucidate those social media platforms have played a key role in tackling gender-based violence, especially violence against women. According to Ahmed and Madrid-Morales (2021), social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and TitTok have helped victims of violence and gender discrimination to share their experiences with other victims and other organizations such as non-governmental ones that have assisted them in getting justice. Through sharing with other victims who have gone through gender-based violence, a space for exchanging knowledge and information concerning their rights, legal procedures, and welfare services; and through that they have been able to get help (Ahmed & Madrid-Morales,2021). For instance, in the year 2010, a platform known as “HarassMap” was created in Egypt as an online mapping tool to enable the victims of gender discrimination to report cases of sexual harassment directly from their phones, and at the same time concealing their identities (Young, 2014). Young (2014), further reports that the mapping tool, which is a crowd-sourcing tool is capable of mapping all reports alongside campaigns geared towards raising awareness on the scale of gender discrimination in Egypt.
Although from the above arguments it appears that social media has achieved positive impacts in fighting discrimination against women at the work place, and any other public sector; there some scholars with contrary opinion. Rauniar et al. (2014) point out that most of the blogs written by females on social media and other websites have been subjected to censorships by different governments across the world. For instance, cases concerning sexual harassments of women activists have been brought down or taken offline from the blog posts (Rauniar et al., 2014) as a form of discouraging women activists. Furthermore, there are some people on those social media platforms with negative attitude towards females, and are gender stereotypes; these tend to lower women’s presentation in social media platforms.
Treves-Kagan et al. (2020) explicates that for many decades, women have been underrepresented in the main stream media; social al media has provided a better platform that enable voices of women from all backgrounds, regardless of their traditional power, to be heard in a wider sphere. In a bid to promote gender equality, social media has shown that it is a tool that can be relied on to champion women’s issues. According to Treves-Kagan et al. (2020), social media has played a leading role in fostering gender equality in almost every sphere of life. For instance, Treves-Kagan et al. (2020) opine those recent cases that have been witnessed in Turkey and India; where women have positively used various social media platforms to champion for the rights of women especially in their places of work. Taking Turkey and India as case study, women have taken the advantage of social media so as to bridge the gap that always separate women activists from the grassroots from being heard. Odine (2013) points out that the use of social media platforms by women have reached to an that has played a key role fighting for women’s rights and gender equality.
Women, U. N. (2015) opines that Beijing Platform for Action ratified in 1995, indicated or predicted that media would have a great potential in advancing the women agenda. Based on that argument, Social Media platforms have actualized the dream of Beijing Platform for Action that was conceived in 1995 (Purewal, 2015). The 1995 Beijing call about women’s empowerment through the media has been included in Fifth Goal of the Sustainable Goals of post 2015 (Purewal, 2015). According to McPherson (2014), women across the world, especially from the countries where freedom of mainstream media are limited such as China have used the social media platforms to champion for their rights. Women have especially from the developing countries where there are lower gender equality issues. However, Women have not been able to fully utilize the platforms that due to constraints like high costs for accessing internet, limited infrastructure, and discriminatory issues in the internet like negative stereotypes against women (McPherson, 2014). Therefore, concerning the above arguments, social media has sphere of life like places of work.
A number of studies have shown that present of women on various social media platforms is more than men’s present, as compared to mainstream media (Huber et al., 2019). For instance, a study that was conducted in 2018 by Huber et al. (2019) revealed that women are using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for several reasons among them being for sharing their discriminations they go through in their lives, and for social networking. Huber et al. (2019) further points out that most women have consistently shared their views geared towards challenging issues that limit them in various ways, for instance, women who have been sexually harassed do find it easier to share their issues on the social media especially in countries such as China.
In relation to study conducted by Scambor et al. (2014), revealed that women would be frequently and freely share discriminations they go through like sexism that they do face in their day to day lives through social media. A study that was conducted among US women, where a sample size of 231 women were incorporate in the study to determine how likely they would use social media to share their issues (Gupta et al., 2019). The study revealed that 79% of those who participated in the study confirmed that they would most likely use the social media to share their problems with other people.
Additionally, researches have shown that most women would most likely use Facebook as platform to share their issues including videos. According to a study conducted by Pew Research in the United States, it was shown that female would most likely use Facebook 11% more than their male counterparts (Gupta et al., 2019). Gupta et al. (2019) further points out that Pinterest is also another social media platform that has frequently used by female users at 33%, as compared to men users at 8%. Additionally, another study among Chinese women concerning how likely they would use Weibo to share their issues also revealed that Chinese females would prefer sharing their issues through Weibo as compared to their male counterparts (. Lee, 2018), revealed that more than a half of Chinese people using social media would most likely share or post their issues through the social media as compared to other users.
Other than Facebook, women activists have also been witnessed on the Twitter to share other issues among them sexism and indiscrimination at the work place. Hardaker and McGlashan (2016) elucidate that various Hashtags geared towards championing for women’s rights have been pushed through the Twitter. Hardaker and McGlashan (2016) activism through Hashtags in the recent past have played a key role in mobilizing public attention towards women’s rights and issues. For example, UN women started a Hashtag known as #HeForShe, which was a campaign geared towards showing the potential of social media that attracted one of the largest number of audience (Zollo et al., 2021). According to Zollo et al. (2021), that particular #HeForShe, managed to attract over 1.2 billion users that highlighted the importance of engaging men and boys to achieve the gender quality. Therefore, through various studies, it has been revealed that women have constantly and regularly used the social media to champion for their issue, as well as for fighting the injustices that might be committed against them.
Although social media is associated with diverse ills in the society such as mental problems and physical health, European Parliament (2013) terms social media as a powerful tool that can be used to influence social change. Social network sites have presented people with diverse platforms that they can use to start a conversation on a given issue of concern. Unlike in the past when people had to physically gather in one place to address on a particular issue of concern, the social media has opened up an opportunity of engage despite their physical distance. Lee (2018) states that social media has created platforms that people can use to connect and discuss about any pressing issue affecting the society. A good example, as presented by Lee (2018) is how the social media was used in highlighting the problem of sexuality harassment on twitter through the Me-Too hashtag. In the argument by Lee (2018), the #MeToo campaign was an effective online campaign that helped to inform and sensitize the society since 2017 on the sexual harassment against women. The campaign exposed the magnitude of the problem in the U.S, whereby the research showed that more than 60% of women trainees in medical facilities experienced sexual harassment. The movement has triggered for the ratification of policies and education strategies to counter any form of sexual harassment against women in the workplace.
The use of social media to highlight the plight of women with to the issue of sexual harassment aligns with the Libertarian Theory. Block (2019) defines the Libertarian theory as a theory that focused on promoting political freedom, free association, freedom of choice, and enhance autonomy in the society. Libertarian theory is a normative theory, which was established in Europe in 16th century, with aim of spreading knowledge because of the belief that limitation of knowledge in the limitation of power among the people. In the observation by Block (2019), the development of libertarian theory was because of the understanding that humans are able to make right judgment with regard to right and wrong. Therefore, Block (2019) noted the press should not be restricted regardless of the contents presented because they can still to add knowledge among the audience. As described in the Libertarian Theory, press freedom help to point at the pressing issues in the society, therefore act as the first step of establishing a solution to the problem. Although the
Libertarian Theory was established for the press media, the strong control of the traditional media by the states has created mistrust among the members of the public. In this regard, many people have turned to the use of social media to access information that would otherwise be censored by the government. In this regard, the Libertarian Theory is strongly applicable in the use of social media, because it has created diverse platforms for spreading, sharing and discussing issues of concern to the society. Social media platforms such as Weibo were used in spreading the #MeToo campaign in China (Lee, 2018). Because of the close monitoring and control of mainstream media, many people in China have turned to social media to access credible information on issues of concern to the society.
Although women oppression and overall sexual harassment is equally prevalent in China, there is limited research studies on the subjected compared to other countries such as U.S and European countries. There is a research gap with regard to examining the issue of women sexual harassment in China. As it stands, there are approximately more than 900 million Chinese using social media networks in China (Chan & Mok, 2018). Despite the huge number of people using the social media, there has been various hurdles erected by the authorities limiting the use of social media (Liu, 2016). In the argument by Liu (2016), Communist Party has been skeptic of allowing social media sites of other countries from entering China such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Although the intention is to promote local sites such as Weibo, Youku, and Renren, the move also limits the Chinese from participating in global social issues (Liu, 2016). In this regard, the Communist Government of China is the major impediment to social media freedom in China, which is imposed by passing stringent policies limiting the use of social media.
In this chapter, I discuss various methodological procedures to be used for purpose of data collection, as well as data analysis. These methodological procedures would assist the researcher to collect the data that would be used to determine whether freedom of social media has been positive in fighting/exposing injustices and discrimination that Chinese women being subjected to in their places of work. In chapter three; following methodological procedures would be used to for data collection: Research Approach and Strategy, Research Instrument, Research Design, Sampling Methods, Data Collection Process and analysis, Reliability and Validity, and Research Ethics.
According to Snyder (2019), research philosophy refers to a framework that guides or provides direction on how a research ought to be conducted, and it is grounded on ideas concerning reality and nature of knowledge. There are two main types of research philosophy, which are Positivism and Interpretivism. These two types of philosophies, which are positivism and interpretivism represent two fundamental separate ways that enable people to make sense of the world around them (Snyder, 2019).
In positivism, reality is independent from the researchers, and as such the researchers would be able to objectively observe reality. Positivism has its roots from the natural sciences and is reliant on the scientific methods for testing hypotheses, and therefore find mathematical or better still logical proof driven from the statistical analysis (Snyder, 2019). Generally, positivists tend to use or rely on bigger sample size so as to arrive at specific, objective, and quantitative data.
Conversely, interpretivism is viewed by the researchers as being highly subjective, since it is determined by the researchers’ perceptions (Snyder, 2019). The philosophy of interpretivism was developed as of perceived shortfalls of positivism so as to meet the needs of social scientists. Snyder (2019) opines that interpretivists are concerned with exploring the ambiguities of social phenomena by achieving an understanding of how subjects in the study view the world, based on results from comparatively small sampling size.
In nutshell, interpretivism is mainly concerned with how designer carryout researches so as to gain deeper understanding about the context of the research topic or problem (Ørngreen & Levinsen, 2017). Additionally, through interpretivism the researcher would be able learn and understand the behaviours and also to analyse different cultures so as to achieve empathy for the dependents. As such, interpretivists would mostly adopt the qualitative method to enable them provide their opinions concerning the topic being researched. Finally, the interpretivism philosophy is based on the assumption that there is no direct link or correlation between the world and people living in it; and people can only grasp world’s understanding via graphically classification of the mind (Mohajan, 2018).
Therefore, based on the above discussion about those two types of philosophies; in this study where the researcher seeks to examine the Impact of freedom of social media in championing for women’s rights against discrimination at work place; Interpretivism would be the most appropriate approach to be used. The reason why interpretivism would be used in this study is due to fact that the researcher tends to use the qualitative method to analyse the data that have been generated. Furthermore, the study would also use a small sample size that will be gathered using interview as a tool that will be administered remotely since there are restrictions that have been brought by Covid-19.
There are only two types of research approaches to be used in a study; they include Deductive and Inductive approaches (Ørngreen & Levinsen, 2017). It suffices to note that main difference between inductive and deductive is based on the theories and hypotheses. Deductive research is normally used in circumstances where the researcher has developed hypothesis, and thereafter design a research strategy that would be used to test hypothesis (Snyder, 2019). Generally, those researchers who adopt deductive approach are always independent of the topic being investigated or researched on during the study, and mostly they emphasize on the quantitative data. As such, deductive research approach is directly correlated to the positivism philosophy.
Conversely, inductive approach is normally begun from the perspective of specific phenomenon to a general theory. Under inductive approach, the research ought to be exploratory, and must aim at achieving depth as opposed to breadth, which is grounded on rich and subjective findings (Ørngreen & Levinsen, 2017).
A sneak Peak of what we provide.