First ever female steel workers in Turkey start jobs

First ever female steel workers in Turkey start jobs

Şebnem Turhan - GEMLİK
First ever female steel workers in Turkey start jobs

Turkey’s first ever female steel workers started working at the Borçelik factory in the western province of Bursa’s district of Gemlik on March 7.

“Generally, when male applicants are enrolled in crane trainings for 15 days, the instructor selects one or two of them to be recruited, but none of the 26 female applicants could be eliminated,” said Emre Bülbül, the unit manager of management systems at Borçelik, a Turkish flat steel producer.

They were selected among 2,350 women workers for the project, which commenced on April 1, 2017 with the motto “There is no tall order for women,” just after the recruiting team removed the limitation on sex from the required qualifications section of the job adverts.

Following a shortlisting period, 26 of them joined the trainings on Jan. 4. In the beginning, there were only 19 positions available, but because the average training score was 99.5 over 100, they were all employed.

Not ‘factory roses’

The women, most of them university graduates who had to quit their jobs after having a baby or for some other reasons, are now operating cranes and weighbridges just like their male colleagues during the same day and night shifts.

They are not “factory roses,” they perform the same tasks as men.

“The posters and the mottos were attractive. I was sure that I would be capable of doing this job. I’m very determined, I knew I would learn how to do this definitely,” said Ayşegül Acar, 29 years old and married with two children. Having worked as a cashier and helper in a pharmacy before, she is now a field operator.

Sinem Sevim Önal, 29, joined the elimination sessions with her son because she could not afford a babysitter. She is now a crane operator dealing with 20 tons of steel rolls.

“I said ‘Why not’ and thought that we shouldn’t act in a prejudiced way,” she said.

Albeit surprised, male workers praise their new fellow workers.

“We don’t see them as others. Since they have chosen this specific walk of life we will walk it together,” said Hayati Alkan, a steel worker for 15 years.