At least one tech company in China appears to be taking a page out of Silicon Valley's infamous "workplace culture" handbook by offering its employees some rather unique benefits — one of which includes personal cheerleaders.
The country's government-run news service China.org.cn reported last week that internet companies "across China" are hiring "pretty, talented girls that help create a fun work environment."
Dubbed "programming cheerleaders," these young women serve to chit-chat and play Ping-Pong with employees as part of their role.
They also sometimes smile and clap for male employees who play guitar in the office, as indicated by photos posted to the news service's verified "Trending in China" Facebook page.
And unlike Google and Facebook, where employees must walk (or ride Segways) to company restaurants for free food, these cheerleaders will reportedly take breakfast orders from employees right at their desks.
"According to the HR manager of an Internet company that hired three such cheerleaders, its programmers are mostly male and terrible at socializing," reads China.org.cn's Facebook post. "The presence of these girls have greatly improved their job efficiency and motivation."
The post doesn't specify which companies, or how many of them, have hired cheerleaders.
Despite this, people from all over the world have weighed in on Facebook to decry the reported role.
"This is degrading — both to the 'cheerleaders' and the programmers," wrote one commenter on the original post. "Look at the face of the poor woman programmer in the second picture. Stereotypical 'bro' culture only now with Chinese subtitles."
Another, who called the job sexist and ridiculous, wrote that "it's like bringing Hooters to [the] workplace."
Many in the thread did indicate, however, that they'd like to see something similar in their own places of work, while others suggested that the company pictured should simply hire more female programmers.
"China in general has 20% more men than women due to long standing gendercide practices," reads one of the highest-rated comments in the thread. "Couple that with the lower number of females in programming it's not that surprising that statistically women are outnumbered in tech companies. One can argue that the company could [hire] more women. Considering Chinese women enjoy pretty decent professional equality, I don't think this is a case of discriminative hiring practices, but a supply issue."
Elsewhere around the web, conversations about the concept of office cheerleaders were overwhelmingly negative.
Blogger Steven Millward, one of the first to write about Trending in China's Facebook photos, wrote the following in the comments section of his widely shared post about the cheerleaders:
"For the commenters who don't get it, consider that inequality is not one barrier – it's thousands. It's death by a thousand cuts. From kindergarten to high school to the workplace, prejudices and perceptions marginalize people. That's why we're in the dire situation of women making up only 24-37 percent of the workforce at major [U.S.] tech firms.
"From the teacher who asks a girl if she wants to be a nurse or a hair stylist, to the companies who make the workplace a hostile or uncomfortable place for women – like the startup pictured in the article," he continued. "That startup could've done something to be part of the solution, but instead they did a dumb thing and now they're part of the vast, nebulous, global problem. Great work, everyone."