Turkish women sailors getting say in traditionally male sector

5 years ago



ISTANBUL – Radikal

Being a woman can be an advantage even in the maritime sector, which is male-dominated, say members of the Women’s International shipping and Trade Association’s Turkish branch. Radikal photo


Women working for the maritime sector have united to found a Turkish branch of the Women’s International Shipping and Trade Association, or WISTA.

Turkish women sailors, who are organizing two major WISTA events now that the branch has been established, want to contribute to the promotion of Turkey and increase the number of women in the sector.

One of the most striking characteristic differentiating them from a male organization is the lack of a strict hierarchy among WISTA members. In a 48-member list presented to the press, association President Nuvara Uslu Erdönmez’s name appears 32nd because the list was prepared in alphabetical order.

The women are also noted for their milder conversations in comparison to their male counterparts.

Many women pointed to their resentment at the general perception of seamanship as a male profession as a reason why they chose to become involved in WISTA. By doing so, the 48 women are trying to increase their say in the traditionally male-dominated sector.

WISTA, which has been active in the world since 1974, only came to Turkey in 2009. As part of their mission to promote Turkey, the association is organizing the WISTA-Mediterranean 2011 meeting in Turkey and is already preparing to hold the WISTA World meeting in 2013 in Turkey.

As the navigation of ships is not done by brute force but by mind power, the increase in the number of sailor women seems inevitable, Erdönmez said.

A ship owner at Atasoy Maritime Co., Suzan Atasoy said the ratio of female managers in the sector in Turkey was around 11 percent.

According to Atasoy, however, Turkey has a privileged position as the average figure for the rest of the world is not even 2 percent. Turkey’s branch of WISTA is the biggest among the other 23 member countries.

“Look at the table and see why we are gradually having a say in this sector,” Seden Öztorun said, pointing to the five cell phones that are all used for sending and receiving e-mails.

During the interview, two of the members are writing emails and another is solving a problem in the Indian Ocean.

“We work 24 hours a day,” said Öztorun, adding that making a lot of money was possible but difficult given the tiring work. Those who succeed, however, earn really good wages.

Asked whether there was a benefit to adding a woman’s touch to the business, Defne Cizre said, “Being a woman is sometimes an advantage because in a problematic case where men are likely to quarrel, women’s involvement makes it easier to solve.”

According to Atasoy, in this male-dominant world, a woman sailor in the seas has to cope with men, and men only speak a male language. Because of this “I am a woman at home, but a man at work,” she said.

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