Meet the female engineers and managers of China's space program
By Huang Yichang and Gong Zhe
The space program looks like it should be a geeky boy's dream. But in China, a large portion of the sector is controlled by female technicians.
At the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China, CGTN found the team that has the most female employees: the IT department.
The IT women feel at home working with servers stacked to the ceiling.
"The launch center's information and control system is composed of many networks, some of which are connected to the Internet, some not," Zhang Lili, an automation engineer, told CGTN.
She spoke to us with caution, in order to prevent any secrets from leaking.
Zhang said to respond quickly to emergencies, the engineers must be able to memorize most of the network configuration – a lot of information as the network is multi-level and distributed in different cities.
Similar requirements are also necessary for the telephone routing staff.
"It sounds very old-fashioned," said Jia Zhongqiu, a telephone router. "But sometimes the old tech is more reliable."
Not all employees can take part in the routing work. If someone fails to qualify, they will be moved to "more suitable" positions.
"Although all jobs are equal," said Jia, "some staff members feel bad after being moved out of the 'core positions'."
As a manager, Zhao Meng is not only in charge of the work, but also the mental health of her teammates.
"Girls are usually more sensitive," she said. "That's why I think a manager of the same sex is better at the job.
"My teacher at work is a man," Zhang Lili told CGTN. "But he is better, not because he's male. It's because he has more experience with the project. I'm also doing the job well. Remember, the launch center has had no failures so far."
The interview took place before the two Beidou navigation satellites were launched – and we have since witnessed their latest successful mission.