Their duties include making conversation, organising events, and giving massages.
Good bosses are always looking for ways to boost their employees’ morale, especially when they’re programmers working long hours. But some Chinese startups are taking morale boosting to a whole new level, hiring attractive women to work as “programmer motivators”.
According to a recent report from The New York Times, to apply to be a programmer motivator, the applicant (female, of course), should:
- be attractive
- know how to charm socially awkward programmers
- give relaxing massages
And, as Gizmodo points out, this isn’t the first report of companies hiring women to act as office cheerleaders. A 2015 post from Trending in China reported that Chinese internet companies were hiring “pretty, talented girls” to “create a fun work environment.”
These girls were hired to buy programmers breakfast, converse with them, and play ping-pong with them. The post reads:
“According to the HR manager of an Internet company that hired three such cheerleaders, its programmers are mostly male and terrible at socializing, and the presence of these girls have greatly improved their job efficiency and motivation.”
Is hiring programmer motivators in China sexist?
Though there has been great progress regarding gender equality in China, many companies continue to practice discrimination. Job ads would explicitly say that males are preferred, or only attractive women should apply.
And even though China has the most self-made woman billionaires, men still dominate the tech world. The New York Times reports that Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent publish job postings advertising “beautiful girls” working for their companies.
One HR executive at Chianfin.com, a company that hires programmer motivators, enumerated traits that a programmer motivator needs to have:
- She should have “five facial features that must definitely be in their proper order”.
- She should speak in a gentle way.
- She should have a contagious laugh.
- She should be able to apply simple makeup.
- She should be taller than 5 feet 2 inches.
One Chainfin.com employee, 31-year-old Feng Zhiyi, told the New York Times that having a programmer motivator in the office has improved the work environment. She would organise birthday parties and keep the programmers active with games like tug-o-war or sack races.
But could a man work as programmer motivators in China? “A man chatting with another man, it’s like going out on a date with a guy,” Feng said. “A little awkward, isn’t it?”
Shen Yue, who works as a programmer motivator, does not think that her job is sexist.
“Many feminist ideas are too extreme now,” she said. “I think women should be independent, self-reliant, and have self-respect. And that’s enough.”
What do you think of programmer motivators in China? Let us know in the comments!
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