When Hong Chu Huan first applied to be a pilot cadet in 2008, she was up against 400 female classmates in China.>> Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain speaking.>> She was tested on everything, from her English to the length of her legs. Eventually, Huan was the only woman from her university that Spring Airlines picked for training that year.
> I really don't like it when people add the word female or male in front of the word pilot. We get the same pay and we do the same job.>> Now, she flies for Spring as a pilot, but she's one of the lucky ones. With only 1 out of 100 qualified pilots being women in China, the country has one of the world's lowest rates of female pilots.
Reuters Brenda Goh is following the story.>> The routes for our people to become pilots are very narrow. And these recruitment drives that these airlines hold, they only look for male cadets. They only open the recruitment to female cadets, maybe, once every few years.>> Many female pilots point to problems like maternity leave.
One Chinese Airlines told Reuters they offer about a year and a half leave, but women say that's not a good thing.>> So it sounds like a very generous maternity policy, but analysts say that this is actually an impediment to greater hiring of female pilots. Because airlines who spend a lot of money and a lot of time training a pilot from days that they were cadet.
They don't want their pilots to be not flying for over a year when they have a child.>> But there is a boom in China's middle class and with it a growing appetite for travel. Chinese airlines are struggling with a pilot shortage. And according to forecasts by plane maker Boeing, Chinese carriers will need more than 100,000 new pilots over the next two decades.
So far rather than reaching out to a qualified pool of female candidates, they've started aggressively hiring foreign captains instead.