Officially, women have the same rights as men in the workplace and the party has promoted this sense of equality over the past thirty years or so. However, traditional Confucian thinking does not sit easily with this notion of gender equality and it is somewhat ironic that the liberalisation policies of the last decade might have reversed many of the advances made by women in Chinese society under the previous hard-line regimes.
Foreign businesswomen will be treated with great respect and courtesy. They may find that, within a delegation, the Chinese defer to male colleagues regardless of the actual seniority of the western party - the Chinese assumption being that the male will naturally be the decision-maker.
Having said that, it is now more and more common to encounter woment in reasonably senior roles in large Chinese organisations - especially in the larger, more modern cities. Chinese women are highly succesful within the education city and are actively managing their careers.