On Culture: Classified Ads

Personal ad in Shanghai's People Park. Center ad reads: Female, born January 1981 - 165 centimeters, graduated from university in 2008 with a monthly income of 8,000 RMB. Looking for Image source: Wendy Qi

I’ve always found it interesting to see how jobs and recruitment works in different countries, and this recent posting in particular caught my attention (posted in original form with no edits made):

job openning for White racial girl in Shanghai China

This is Julie, my focus field is semiconductor.  now I am looking for a young girl from America or Europe, White skin, prefer have electronics or economy/business background, Bacholer or Master, aggressive attitude, open mind.

JOB Description.
Sale assistand or Business fulfillment.
This is a global Korea company, which semiconductor product is famous and have dominance market share in many field such as panel , HDD, mobile ,TV, and so on. Location is in Shanghai. They need a white girl to 1 help keep business relation withe Europe/American customer, 2 watch sell-in, sell-out, storage status… “

Aside from the spelling and grammar errors, I was initially surprised by the job’s heading which so bluntly stated the ultimate Western faux-pas — explicit requirements for gender and race of a potential candidate. Naturally, angry comments ensued on the LinkedIn forum where this posting was made, as well as some debate about how political correctness had not yet crept into Chinese corporate culture, particularly when posting in English.

After further thinking about it though, I realized that to Julie the poster (originally from Liaoning according to her LinkedIn profile), this was perfectly normal. Nearly everywhere in China, self-introductions were prefaced by physical features like height.

Male, 1.7 meters, honest, hardworking … Female, 19, 1.6 meters, experience working in ABC company, originally from such and such village in this township.

In the factory towns like Shenzhen and Dongguan that have made China’s economic progress possible, job listings are also commonly listed this way.

Seeking young female girl with nimble hands, preferably taller than 1.5 meters, prior experience working in the shoe industry

In a country with over a billion people, such specifics have naturally become a part of the culture. I’m sure as time goes on and as the cultural differences between the two shores converge, certain faux-pas will become more universal. But for now, this is another reminder that we still live in an economy/society where this is still a market for renting a white guy.


Leave a Reply