The COVID pandemic has brought family caregivers in China new challenges to balance work and family needs. While sudden quarantine requirements and unexpected suspensions of schools and care institutions demand more flexibility from work, the economic slowdown reduces job opportunities and increases competition in the employment market. Based on a recent respondent-driven survey and 11 in-depth interviews of company directors and HR managers in Guangdong Province, the study explores how representatives of employers, some of whom are family caregivers, view and understand the dilemmas of family caregivers under such circumstances, and how they treat family caregivers in job recruitment, performance evaluation, and promotion decisions. Preliminary data analysis uncovers unfriendly attitudes of employers towards family caregivers, especially mothers of young children and men taking care of aging parents, as well as prevalent discourses of gender norms, individual choice, and personal responsibility. Implications of the findings for social inequality in China and policymaking will also be discussed.
About the Speaker:
Haijing Dai is an associate professor of social work at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received her Ph.D. in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research interests mainly include social organization of care, gender inequality, innovative social services, and social change in contemporary China. She has published articles in many international journals including Social Forces, Journal of Social Policy, Social Service Review, and British Journal of Social Work.
Moderator: Qin Gao, Professor and Director of China Center for Social Policy, Columbia School of Social Work