Sector professionals and top women executives say a handful of women work in Turkey's technology and engineering firms, despite huge interest from young women seeking a career in these particular fields.
A parliamentary sub-committee on equal opportunity for men and women is looking into efforts to guide more girls into the fields of mathematics and engineering as women addressing the committee point to a severe lack of women in these fields.
Ayşegül Özsan, a board member of KAGİDER, an association for women entrepreneurs, told the committee that 74% of young women they interviewed as part of a survey are interested in pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering, computer sciences and mathematics. However, the number of those actually pursuing education and finding jobs was limited.
“This means we either don’t give them job opportunities or they have little means for education,” she says. "The situation in Turkey is no different than in other countries. Only 11% of the executives in Silicon Valley are women," she added.
Resignation or turnover rate for women in advanced technology companies was 41% while it was only 17% in men. Meanwhile, women had only 25% of the jobs in the IT sector. "KAGİDER is looking to empower women in the agriculture and technology sector," she said.
Addressing the committee, Aslı Kunur, human resources director of Siemens Turkey, said her company was looking to boost the number of women employees but faced a lack of university graduates from engineering departments.
Kunur pointed out that engineering was not viewed as “a job for a woman” and they had cooperated with an education foundation and schools on a project to encourage girls to take up such jobs.
She said they arranged meetings between girls and women engineers behind successful projects to encourage and inspire them. Kunur highlights that an awareness campaign was needed to inspire more girls to take up engineering and technology jobs, for instance, via ads.
Turkish women do not fare better than other women in the world in terms of employment, statistics indicate. The proportion of women in upper and middle-level management positions was 17.3% in 2017, according to statistics by TurkStat. The overall employment rate for women fluctuates below 30%.
Statistics also show that the higher the educational status of a woman, the more likely she is to participate in the labor force. The highest women employment rate was registered in the service sector. It is lower in industry and agriculture compared to men.