Women Lag Behind In Turkish Public Service

Despite recent gains Turkish women have made in employment, women still lag behind men when it comes to public service posts.

al-monitor Abdullah Demirbas (2nd L), the mayor of the local Sur municipality, meets his employees during an event ahead of International Women's Day in Diyarbakir, March 5, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Mehmet Engin.

Topics covered

women, turkey, employment

Aug 15, 2013

The [Turkish] State Personnel Office (DPB) publishes statistics on public service employment. These figures offer important conclusions and enable comparisons with other countries.

Contrary to common perceptions, there aren’t enough civil servants in Turkey. Although there has been a rapid increase in the number of civil servants, Turkey is still lagging behind OECD averages. According to OECD data, a civil servant in Austria serves 18 people, in Canada and France 12, in Finland nine, in Germany 18, in the Netherlands 18, and in the United States 13. Turkey, with a population of 74,724,000, has 2,584,000 civil servants, which means one civil servant per 29 citizens. This is why in many offices civil servants have to cope with a heavy workload.

There are many factors affecting the distribution of civil servants in our country. In addition to provinces with a higher cost of living, the ratio of civil servants to population is also low in provinces with less-developed socio-economic conditions. For example, in Istanbul one civil servant serves 46 people, while in the southeastern provinces of Sanliurfa the figure is 48, in Mardin 35, and in Van 34.

Not at desired level

Over the past five years, the share of women in new employment has reached unprecedented levels. Nevertheless, the ratio of women in overall employment is still below advanced countries.

When you make a distinction between public and private sectors, women have higher placement in the public sector, but not enough. According to DPB figures, in public service men dominate the personnel structure.

According to 2013 statistics, of 2,584,623 people employed by ministries, their subsidiaries and state economic enterprises, only 933,215 of them are women.

Lagging behind developed country averages

In developed countries, women have a larger presence in public service. In Sweden, the figures are amazing, where 73% of public service workers are women. This ratio is 65% in Britain and Lithuania, and 61% in Norway.

Clerical jobs for women

In Turkey, the ratio of women in public service in around 36%. Countries in the same range are Belgium, with 43%, Greece at 44% and Slovakia with 46%. In Turkey, women have fewer opportunities for advancement; they are concentrated in specific career groups. For example, 39% of clerical posts are filled by women.

Women’s education levels are higher

According the DPB figures, in Turkey 24.4% of judges and public prosecutors are women. Frequent reassignments to other locations, a heavy workload and the psychological pressures of these jobs may explain this low percentage.

Women’s employment in public service is highest in teaching, where approximately 41% of teachers are women. This is a satisfactory situation for our women with higher education. Many developed countries have not attained this ratio. The high respect afforded by society to the teaching profession, and appropriate assignment conditions steer our women with higher education to the field of education.

Another field with high women employment in public service is banking. Of 51,573 people working in three state-owned banks, 22,036 are women, which represents 42% of the total. Moreover, there are more opportunities in the banking sector for women with higher education. The ratio of women with high-school-level education in the public banking sector is 29%, while 51% of those with university and postgraduate degrees are women.

Men rule senior posts

Men dominate senior positions in public service. According to DPB figures, there are only 585 women in senior public posts as undersecretaries, governors, ministry advisers, general directors, department heads, and regional and provincial directors. Of 6,197 people at these senior levels, only 9.4 % are women. This shows opportunities for women to advance in public service are limited, compared to men.

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