Zhao Xia: the lady in a man's world

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Zhao Xia is the country's only female to have reached the level of Deputy Designer General in the field of aircraft aerodynamics. This has traditionally been the preserve of male colleagues but she stands out among her peers through her record of research achievements.

Zhao Xia.[File photo]

Zhao Xia.[File photo] 

Zhao often works with wind tunnels. It is essential that accurate and reliable experimental data are obtained. For Zhao this can mean dozens of hours, once even days, of painstaking attention to scientific detail.

In 1987, Zhao joined the Communist Party of China. Since then, she has shouldered the most difficult research tasks.

Over more than 20 years, Zhao has taken part in dozens of key development projects and organized several important research projects. She drives herself hard and is known for overworking. She fell ill on one project and should really have gone for proper hospital treatment. However, she refused to be hospitalized, stopped only long enough for some stop-gap treatment, and got quickly back to work burying herself in hundreds of pages of technical reports and specifications.

Zhao's diligence and devotion to duty have brought her numerous awards and medals. However, Zhao says such accolades are not just for her personally but for the whole team. "I can do nothing without the help of my colleagues. The honors belong to us all. I have received much more than I have given to others."

"Every time I see planes designed or developed by ourselves roar up into the sky, I am so proud of what we have done. Sometimes I can't wait to have a drink to celebrate our success," said Zhao with a smile. "Although I'm not good at drinking."

Zhao would rather be thought of as a capable housewife than a powerful lady. "I like doing chores, cooking in particular. Come and taste my steamed buns," she said.

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