The New York Times is reporting on an unusual trend in Chinese tech startups: hiring beautiful young women as “programmer motivators.” The primary responsibilities of the job involve organizing activities, carrying on charming conversation, providing an occasional massage and, of course, looking good. Internet giant Alibaba once ran a help wanted ad for a programmer motivator with “recognizably good looks.” And an HR manager who has hired programmer motivators said they must have “five facial features that must definitely be in their proper order” and speak in a gentle way, besides wearing makeup and being at least five-foot-two.
China has laws against gender discrimination in the workplace, but those laws are rarely enforced. A male tech executive who spoke out against hiring programmer motivators noted that both men and women pushed back against his calls for cultural change. “The men said: ‘If there are more beautiful women, I’ll be happier in my job. What’s the issue?’ And some women said: ‘As a woman, I don’t think this is a problem at all.’”