Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Joshua Howard

Relational Format



China's shengnü — or leftover women — are a group of highly-educated, single, urban women that the Chinese government has targeted in a scare-mongering media campaign intent on pushing these women to give up their careers or education in order to marry and produce children for the betterment of the state. Since 2007, this group of women has faced highly negative articles and images published both by the All China Women's Federation and other news outlets encouraging shengnü to fix their problems and marry. These highly-educated, unmarried women are seen as violators of traditional gen-der norms and roles, and the leftover women phenomenon campaign is an attempt to reinforce these gender norms. This thesis project examines changes in Chinese marriage throughout history in an attempt to show the inevitability of highly-educated, single women in Chinese society, coupled with an analysis of media articles and images, which is contrasted by an analysis of blogs written by the shengnü themselves.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Accessibility Status

Searchable text

Included in

History Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.