ITB 2024 Special Reporting
Are You a 'Leftover' Woman? And are You Self-Critical? Read on.....
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 30th April 2013
Is the universe telling me something or what? On the flight to Bangkok to open our second WITX event and I am reading the IHT and what should I come across but two articles that speak directly to the topic of how women are redefining not just travel but societies, economies and workplaces.

First is an article headlined, "Unmarried, over 30 and proud of it", about single Chinese women being called "shengnu" or "leftover women" by their relatives once they pass the third decade.

I can empathise with these women I remember my grandmother who married when she was 16 calling me a "jar of pickles" when I reached 30, still single. If she were alive today, she'd call me worse than that, I am sure, but with a big smile on her face. Warrior woman that she was, even she knew when to give up with this grand-daughter.

Seems there's less shame now attached to Chinese women being single into their 30s and they've even twisted the word "shengnu" around to mean "victorious" or "successful" based on the different meanings in Chinese.

According to the report by Didi Kirsten Tatlow, China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women and so really there shouldn't be any reason for "leftover women" given the ratio but appears more women are choosing to stay single and pursuing their own careers and lives.

"I don't feel I am leftover, I feel I'm living the life I want," said one.

I don't think this trend is isolated to China across most of Asia, as economies develop and more women enter the workplace, they now have choices that their mothers and grandmothers did not.

And this underlying trend growing swathes of single women will shape customer behaviour in the world's largest travel market so if you're marketing to women, well, I'd watch this space if I were you.

In the second article, titled "The Confidence Questions", David Brooks refers to the video in Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign in which a forensic artist conducts experiments with women (pictured) and how they see themselves physically first, he sketches them as they describe themselves and then he draws another image as described by someone else, another woman.

He then gets the women to look at the two images, side by side, and there's the moment of realization that basically proves that women are hard on themselves and overly self-critical.

Brooks then asks three critical questions of women and their positions in the workplace.

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