A new look at gender inequality in Chinese: A study of Chinese speakers' perception of gender-based characters

Rong Ju Cherng, Chu Lin Chang, Jenn Yeu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


It has been claimed that Chinese characters containing a woman radical (e.g., jian1 'adultery') tend to reflect negatively on women. We investigated this claim by asking Taiwan college students (24 men and 19 women) to rate the valence (1, 0, or -1) of 323 gender-based characters and their dictionary definitions. For men and women alike, characters with the son radical (k = 22) were rated more positively than characters with the woman radical (k = 103), although the latter also received a positive rating. Characters with the human radical (k = 198) were neutral. We conclude that gender inequality does not find itself in the gender-based characters. Whether it may be observed in other linguistic expressions of Chinese needs to be addressed with care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-433
Number of pages7
JournalSex Roles
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Nov 17



  • Chinese characters
  • Gender inequality
  • Linguistic relativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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