Ageism and sexism at work: the middle-aged women of Hong Kong.
Employment discrimination against middle-aged women has recently captured public attention in Hong Kong. One reason is the economic slowdown and increasing unemployment since the 1993-94 and the 1997-to date economic downturns. This paper looks at sex and age discrimination against middle-aged women in colonial Hong Kong where they faced such problems as low labor force participation, occupational and industrial segregation and wage differentials, which in turn left them vulnerable to unemployment and poverty. Rampant age and sex discrimination in the workplace is due to a number of factors: traditional values and cultural devaluation of women's work and need for education, economic restructuring and labor importation, a legal vacuum, inefficient retraining policy, and the weak position of women in the labor movement. The postcolonial government under Tung Chee Hwa is heavily influenced by business interests. Women in the age group of 30-39 and above are hardest hit. They are not targeted as special groups of trainees who require special assistance. Given the limited concern for gender development on the part of the new government, the prospect for women workers does not look good.
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