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Women riding high in Chinese delivery industry

by Narges Mohammadi

More female drivers in China are opting to work in the delivery sector. Below, you will read the words of three of them and will learn about their aspirations plus the reasons to why they accepted this once male-dominated job

Although Wang Chaofeng may not stand out among the throng of food delivery personnel, her persistence and hardworking spirit have won respect for her and her small number of female peers

Since she started the job in October 2018, the 29-year-old has never allowed herself to lose out to male workers in terms of physical strength and endurance

Initially, my husband and I worked at a registration stand for driving schools, but we quit several years ago as the job couldn’t secure a good life for us, she said. Then in 2018, we came to Beijing to look for work

She said that she and her husband were nonplussed about their lives and future at first, and they were constantly worried about paying for food and rent at the time

I remember that we wandered around the streets like aimless flies for a couple of days, looking for any vacancies. Then we heard that it was easy to get jobs as food delivery drivers, which could bring in high salaries, she said. We registered with Meituan, a food delivery platform, without any hesitation

She conceded that she had some concerns about the job as very few women were willing to take on food delivery work. The high salary lured me,” she said. Even though she enjoys the flexible working hours the job provides, she once burst into tears because of the heavy workload.

In the first month after I took the job, I got really tired every day and couldn’t get used to the work at all. I remember that it was around the end of the year. One very cold day, when the road was iced up because a street sprinkler had just passed by, I fell off my electric scooter after applying the brakes a little too hard, she said

I just sat on the ground, feeling helpless because I couldn’t lift up my e-scooter. It was too heavy and I was too tired at the time. All the emotions came flooding out and I felt aggrieved,” she said. “But I still love the job, anyway

Wang said that she never thinks of herself as inferior when she works with male delivery drivers. “Except for when I have my period, I won’t lose out to them in terms of physical strength. Sometimes, I may get more understanding and kindness from customers when they see I’m a woman,” she said

I remember that one time I got an order to deliver mutton soup, but I spilled a lot of the broth during the journey because I fell off my e-scooter. I was very sorry, so I told the customer that I would pay for another bowl of soup for him. But he refused, saying he preferred the mutton to the soup. I knew it was an excuse to make me feel better, but it did cheer me up

As the mother of two children, Wang said the job gives her the mental strength to support the family

Sometimes, my husband, who is also a food deliveryman at the same Meituan station as me, blames himself for letting me do such an arduous job. He used to try to persuade me to get a new job for example, to become a courier for a shopping mall but I really feel okay and I love the flexible working hours, she said

Wang usually delivers about 40 orders a day, working from 10 am to 9 pm. That means she can earn around 10,000 yuan ($1,490) a month during the peak seasons, which are usually the hottest and coldest months

I take a break at about 2 pm, when the peak of lunch orders finishes. The second peak comes after 5 pm, for dinner,” she said

She is one of the team leaders at the Meituan station. “I don’t think women are inferior to men, and I just want my female peers to drive slowly and take good care of themselves. We women are as good as men at our duties,” she said

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