Female cadres tend to rise through gender pathways in areas such as education and civil affairs, and in mass organisations
The rarity of female state leaders in China often sees them characterised as mythical creatures – “phoenix feather and unicorn horns” in Chinese idiom.
There are about two million female cadres serving in Communist Party and government organs, mostly at the grass-roots level, and women make up more than half of the central government’s new civil service recruits every year.
But the boys’ club of Chinese elite politics means very few women hold real power. For those who do make it, the path is likely to be long and tortuous as they overcome bureaucratic hurdles and gender stigmas.