Shanghai women's biggest fear: Life without a man

Shanghai women's biggest fear: Life without a man

It’s not unemployment that female Shanghai university graduates fear, it’s becoming 'leftover women'
Shanghai graduates' becoming 3S ladies
Recent Chinese university graduates consider their job options at a employment fair -- a good job or becoming a 3S lady?
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You can keep the job, just give me a man! That seems to be the message coming from Shanghai female university graduates. A recent survey shows that being seen as a "3S lady," or sheng nu (leftover woman), is the biggest concern for female graduates in the city.

In Shanghai, a 3S lady is a single woman born in the 1970s who is stuck without a husband or family. Many are smart and successful, just not married. In China, it's widely believed that the ideal childbearing age for a woman is between 24-28. So those who have hit 30 are “leftovers.”

According to a recent survey of more than 900 female university graduates from 17 Chinese universities conducted by the journalism school at Fudan University, more than 70 percent of respondents said their greatest fear is becoming a 3S lady.

These women at some of China’s elite universities believe their limited social networks -- limitations blamed on their academic success or strong personalities -- leave them too busy to date or make them less attractive to men. 

According to China Daily, “Chinese women have traditionally been labeled as the weaker sex. Modern female white-collar workers and other successful career women have challenged that notion by carving independent paths for themselves in society.”

Some believe that characteristics that define modern Shanghainese women inhibit their chances for marriage.

“I’ve been in the market a long time,” muses Mr. Fu, a Shanghai matchmaker. “Girls in Shanghai are strong these days, there are still lots of unmarried girls’ names on my lists.”

"3S ladies often value career success above their personal lives. Their personal excellence and high standards leave them in a Catch-22 situation in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which weakens their chance of finding potential husbands," says Liao Shengqing, head of the communication department in the journalism school at Fudan University.

Women tend to become successful in their careers earlier than men in China. Liao says that until societal expectations shift along with that reality, 3S ladies may remain in love limbo.