International Women’s Day: Never give up!

March 8, 2024 at 8:00 AM , Der AUDITOR
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SEEHEIM/ANKARA. Even in 2024, women don't always have it easy in male-dominated industries... right? We spoke to a female dried fruit trader based in Turkey about how she has fared in the almost twenty years she has been working in the industry and what it takes to stand up to the competition.

How long have you been working in the trade sector and how did you get into it? Did you find it difficult to enter the sales industry?

I am a graduate in International Trading and Foreign trade, so my profession is Foreign Trade. I actually consider myself a bit lucky in this regard, at least I have received my education in this direction. Immediately after my graduation, I started to work at the foreign trade departments of international companies and build up my career for almost 20 years.

I decided to continue self-employed after I stopped working after a ten-year-career at a company. I was contacted by one of the customers of the company where I worked, asking me if I could proceed working for them in giving services like monitoring their orders etc. So I started a foreign trade company by myself – that was twelve years ago.

This was an encouragement for me as a woman to run my own business in this hard business world dominated mainly by men. Once I started with that customer I contacted other new buyers and added some new clients to my portfolio, but that did not happen immediately and it took a few years before we could grow our trade mutually. 

Do you think that as a woman in the trade sector, you have to face different hurdles than your male colleagues?

I already realised as an employee of the companies where I worked for their foreign trade departments that it is more difficult for women to build up a career compared to the men since the sales industry prefers mostly men for this kind of jobs. The general opinion is that it is more difficult for women to travel or work long hours as they need to care for their houses, family and children as well. In fact, women are more ambitious and careful and their success is not a coincidence, but I have personally experienced that men are given priority when it comes to promotion in positions. Men always think that women are a little weaker and they make it obvious. I have always struggled in this regard, and of course, I have also experienced “positive discrimination” as I learned the job very well and was one of the most important employees that they wouldn’t fire so quickly.

How has the situation changed in recent decades? Are women more accepted in senior trading positions? And do you feel that more women have shown an interest in entering the trading industry in recent years?

I can clearly see that the situation has changed, since especially in my country women are better educated compared to 20 years ago, so they have the chance to build up a career if they have enough patience. They need to be interested in learning and to think in longer terms since it is not easy to gain a foothold in this hard business world still mainly dominated by men. In my opinion, only a certain percentage of women pursue long-term careers, but a large proportion of them give up on these struggles and constantly change jobs in the same positions, so they do not have the opportunity to advance in their positions.

What advice can you give to women who want to gain a foothold in the trade sector? What kind of skills should they have?

When you start a job, first learn about that job and the products you deal with very well. After learning the job a little bit, think about what can be done better, set goals for yourself, but most importantly, be patient for this because you will have to work for many years. Do not give up and do not quit your job immediately when you encounter difficulties, because no job is easy, if you do so then you always have to start from the beginning at a new job and prove yourself, which means that you will always stay in the same place. Instead, develop both yourself and your plan, be patient. This will not happen in a few years, so be prepared for a long marathon – but the fruits which you will collect in the end will give you great pleasure! Never give up!

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