China's First Female Railroad Engineer

September 17, 2009
Editor: zhuhong

Tian Guiying visits CRH at Shenyang railway station and is happy to see the development of China's railway 
Sitting in her airy and clean apartment, 80-year-old Tian Guiying, appears no different from any other retired senior citizen. But Tian has the distinction of being New China's first-ever woman locomotive engineer.

Tian was the youngest of six daughters in a fisherman's family, resident in a poverty-stricken village near the coastal city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province. To her parents, Tian's birth meant little more than a heavier burden.

At 16, Tian became a worker at a local railway company. She later joined the trade union and before long became an underground member of the Communist Party of China.

"I wanted to learn enough to be able to do as good a job as good as man," Tian said.

After the People's Republic of China was founded, the local railroad company began recruiting women engineers. Despite opposition from her family, Tian applied for the position, and after three months of hard training Tian was selected, at age 19, chief engineer out of nine other female applicants.

Tian Guiying is awarded the title "Women's Locomotive" in 1950s
On March 8, 1950, Tian eased her steam-driven engine out of Dalian station. During the next three years, she and her crew took the train over a distance of more than 200,000 kilometers.

News of China's first lady train engineer spread throughout the country, and Tian soon became a celebrity. Months after her successful first run, the people elected Tian a national model worker and chose her to present, on behalf of all model workers in northeast China provinces, a silk banner to Chairman Mao Zedong. It was her finest moment.

"As I stood before Chairman Mao I was so excited and trying so hard to keep from crying that I couldn't utter a word," Tian recalled.

Since retiring in 1985 from the Shenyang Railroad Bureau, Tian has devoted her spare time to public activities, such as environmental protection and senior citizens' fashion and art exhibitions.

"Thanks to the founding of the New China I was able to progress from an impoverished fisherwoman to a railroad engineer," Tian said.

(Source: China Women's News / Translated by womenofchina)

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