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[BEIJING] More Chinese women should opt for scientific subjects at college, and efforts must be made to increase women's general knowledge of science. These were key messages to emerge from China's Ninth National Women Congress held in Beijing last week.

Delegates at the congress were told that women account for only a quarter of the members of China's Association of Science and Technology (CAST) and China’s provincial academic organisations.

Furthermore, women lag behind men in their general knowledge of science. A survey carried out by CAST two years ago found that only 14 people per thousand had a 'basic knowledge' of science, and nearly two-thirds of these were male.

"Bridging the gap between males and females in terms of scientific knowledge has become a dominant factor in achieving the equality of men and women,’’ said Cheng Donghong, secretary of CAST. This gap has increased as rural poverty has forced more women than men to leave school early, she explained. In addition, female students are increasingly opting for the humanities instead of science-based subjects at college.

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