Aviation Industry

In China, female pilots strain to hold up half the sky


When Han Siyuan first decided to apply for a job as a pilot cadet in 2008, she was up against 400 female classmates in China on tests measuring everything from their command of English to the length of their legs.

Eventually, she became the only woman from her university that Shanghai-based Spring Airlines picked for training that year. She is now a captain for the Chinese budget carrier, but it has not become much easier for the women who have come after her.

Han is one of just 713 women in China who, at the end of 2017, held a license to fly civilian aircraft, compared with 55,052 men. Of Spring Airlines’ 800 pilots, only six are women.

“I’ve gotten used to living in a man’s world,” she said.

China’s proportion of female pilots – at 1.3 percent – is one of the world’s lowest, which analysts and pilots attribute to social perceptions and male-centric hiring practices by Chinese airlines.

But Chinese airlines are struggling with an acute pilot shortage amid surging travel demand, and female pilots are drawing attention to the gender imbalance.

Chinese carriers will need 128,000 new pilots over the next two decades, according to forecasts by planemaker Boeing Co, and the shortfall has so far prompted airlines to aggressively hire foreign captains and Chinese regulators to relax physical entry requirements for cadets.

“The mission is to start cutting down the thorns that cover this road, to make it easier for those who come after us,” said Chen Jingxian, a Shanghai-based lawyer who learned to fly in the United States and is among those urging change.

Such issues are not confined to China; the proportion of female pilots in South Korea and Japan, where such jobs do not conform to widespread gender stereotypes, is also less than 3 percent.

But it is a sharp contrast to the situation in India, which, like China, has a fast-growing aviation market. But thanks to aggressive recruiting and support such as day care, India has the world’s highest proportion of female commercial pilots, at 12 percent.

China’s airlines only hire cadets directly from universities or the military. They often limit recruitment drives to male applicants and very rarely take in female cohorts.

In addition, unlike in other markets, such as the United States, China does not allow people to convert private flying licenses to commercial certificates for flying airliners…

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Fuente: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-airshow-women-pilots/in-china-female-pilots-strain-to-hold-up-half-the-sky-idUSKCN1NA2SP

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