Women in Turkish business

Dress code and etiquette

Women in Turkish business

Western women might feel isolated in the Turkish business world. Only 24% of Turkish women are employed, so the workplace is definitely male-dominated.

The Turkish constitution does guarantee equal opportunity, however, and the number of successful businesswomen in Turkey is constantly growing. The low numbers of Turkish businesswomen reflect cultural values rather than institutionalized sexism.

Thus, an interesting contradiction: while on average Turkish girls leave school 18 months earlier than boys, the percentages of women executives in some industries are actually higher than in many other countries. In the Turkish finance industry, for example, there is a higher ratio of women executives than in Germany, Italy, or France.

Nonetheless, women should avoid wearing short skirts, stiletto heels, or any revealing clothing in the workplace, lest they risk harsh judgement of their character.

Similarly, in some rural areas it is unacceptable for a woman to shake hands with a man.

If you are a man meeting a Turkish businesswoman, wait for the woman to extend her hand before you move to shake it. If you are a woman, the decision will be left to you. As a foreign woman, you will certainly be given wider latitude with your decisions, but you may nonetheless prefer to go with local custom in the interest of appealing to your clients.

Further reading

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