08 Jul 2021

I am surrounded by women. And I am super happy about this.

Our house and its surroundings are lively. My wife, my two daughters. Even our three dogs are female, and both of the girls’ horses are mares. Even the cats in the garden are two-to-one female. Smiles all around.

There are plenty of women in our extended family as well; mothers, aunts, sisters-in-law, nieces, cousins, dozens of women.

I come to work, and my dear partner is a woman. What’s more, the entire management team at MSA is composed of women, except for one person. It’s probably eight or nine to one.

And if I’m not mistaken, almost all of their teams (over 20 people) are also made up of women, except for two men.

A substantial female presence is also felt amongst our instructor chefs (the numbers are still not equal, but they will be—in fact I hope the majority will be women soon).

While the gender ratio of students in the vocational cookery courses is almost equal, it’s safe to say that the pastry, bakery and barista classes are predominantly made up of female students. On the other hand, the number of female students in business and bartending classes is clearly on the rise.

MSA’s restaurant is also gender-equal in terms of staff; you’re welcome to go inside the kitchen to see for yourself or to observe from your table.

As you can see, I’m really surrounded by women.

Although I am happy in my own way, unfortunately, everyone around me is quite upset because, well, the agenda is not so bright these days.

When people around me are wearied, naturally I am also affected, and there is a particular type of news that I come across frequently, which especially bothers me.

Female unemployment has increased during the pandemic period…

So the news goes something like this: “The biggest problem experienced by working women during the pandemic period is not in the workplace, but on the contrary, in their home, in terms of increased housework, increased care responsibilities, and, sadly, domestic violence, which is also on the rise.”

A study conducted by UNDP has found out that women spend four times more time and effort than men on housework and care during the pandemic period. The result of the study was noted as: “This period highlights inequalities and reinforces the experiences of disadvantaged groups.”

In fact, even this news seems biased to me when I read it carefully.

What does ‘this period brings inequalities to the fore’ mean?

I think we, as society and as men, have prejudices that are conscious and/or unconscious.

One of my most important discoveries regarding men and women is that given equal opportunities, women with similar education levels are much more capable of multitasking than men.

While housework and care responsibilities have increased, over the years, I have observed that my women colleagues have always set their priorities in such situations, managed to be in more than one place simultaneously, completed their tasks in a much more practical way than usual, and fulfilled their responsibilities without interruption and even more successfully.

And if we are to focus on the pandemic period, if we, as employers, cannot show a little more empathy to these friends of ours, whether they are female or male, when they face familial or personal issues and problems, it shouldn’t be surprising to see people leave. In the end, isn’t that the natural consequence?

In my opinion, the takeaway from the conclusion of the UNDP research should have been as follows: women who spent four times more time and effort did not give up on work, rather they might have chosen to not be in a place where their dedication went unnoticed.

Over the years, one of the key issues I have learned from my female colleagues is the importance they attach to being recognized for their selfless labor. If their efforts go unnoticed, of course they may not hesitate to burn the bridges, but please consider the reverse: who could stand up against a team that is aware of this power.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a male predominance amongst our chefs, but I guess that’s not because we wanted it to be, but because this profession has been considered a ‘male profession’ for a long time.

And it’s not just us. I did a little digging and came across a research done in the United States in 2019. I don’t think such statistics are available in Turkey. In the United States, 77 percent of chefs are male. And I was sad to find out that these men earn 30-40 percent more than female chefs in the same jobs. I will return to this discrepancy later.

USA 2019 DATA / Chefs and Head Chefs / Workforce

506k, Average Age: 40

Distribution by Gender:

Men’s Labor – 392k (77 percent)

Women’s Labor – 114k / (23 percent)

10-Year Projection Estimated Growth: 9.62 percent

Average Men’s Salary: $38,465

Average Women’s Salary: $28,270

Unfortunately, no research or data regarding the number of chefs in Turkey is available (I couldn’t find it).

How happy for us that MSA produces increasingly more women chefs each year. You wouldn’t believe the exponential rise in the number of enrollments in our February 2021 professional trainings. Well done.

So, why women? Let me list my reasons:

 –  The one aspect that I feel most comfortable with is that they are not egocentric; The first thing that comes to my mind is that they can be more open to different views and ideas than their own, and that they can adapt to situations more easily.

Since women deal with so many different issues in their daily lives, when they receive a suggestion that could make their lives easier on one or more of these issues, they automatically know that they could win an hour or two, a day or two, or a league or two. Moreover, women are experienced. From baby care to house cleaning, from kitchen shopping and preparation to personal care, women experience and witness so much that why should women’s work life be any different?

 – Another valuable characteristic of women that comes to my mind is their ability to undertake a different duty, even if it is not in their immediate area of responsibility, in order for the whole team to be successful.

I think this is a skill women have adapted from their daily lives to professional life. Because they know that that particular assignment may undermine the whole team (including themselves) in the future and/or may cause that task to be repeated. This must be an innate ability of women in ways of thinking; we men do not have that ability. Perhaps men also have it but most of us don’t use it. I don’t know why.

– Another important observation I have made over the years is that they can accept their mistakes more easily, and then take action to rectify that mistake.

I think this might just as well be socially imposed. We stupid men don’t have the right to make mistakes, and in fact, we don’t make them! Women are already weak, so they have the right to make mistakes, and they do!

I think everyone can make mistakes; the important thing is to take notice and to fix it. But only if you can recognize or accept the mistake in the first place.

  – Another advantage of women is that women work much more meticulously in jobs that require attention to detail. After all, it’s the details that distinguish a successful business from other businesses, right?

  – The essence of the matter: I must admit that the most important reason for me to work with so many women is that they deserve one’s trust, my trust and the opportunity to trust.

For example, my partner is a woman. MSA’s finances have also been trusted to woman manager for the past 10 plus years. Heads of marketing, professional trainings, workshops, catering departments and of course their staff are all women and I am both confident and proud of these colleagues.

Of course, I am equally confident and proud of my male colleagues, but today the focus is women, and well, men shouldn’t take offence.

And I must admit that the things I hear during various conversations make me proud.

We sometimes talk in sincerity, and they tell me that because they know of this trust, they feel more responsible for their work, and embrace each task or process entrusted to them even more adamantly.

If you’ll excuse me, I also would like to share a feeling of mine.

Those of you who know me or read my articles in this column would know this: I have a business consciousness that drives me to work with only the best people. Obviously, to act all bossy when surrounded by all this talent seems both unnecessary and absurd.

In time a natural way of doing things occurred; whoever is involved in a particular project or is responsible of a certain task, regardless of their gender, I trust that person’s experience, know-how and decision and use that as my guiding light. For some reason, this is taken for granted by men while the women value it much more. That’s how I’ve always felt.

To summarize, I love women, and I also love working with women.

I’m a true advocate of every individual’s right to do the job they love, pursue the career they love and be paid what they deserve in return, regardless of their gender.

I think the important thing here is to create an environment that will allow people to use their strengths, make them feel good, develop themselves and of course support their self-confidence, rather than being focused on them being women or men.

Keeping all the above-mentioned issues in mind while I conduct business especially in terms of recruitment, I can safely say that, I prefer to put all other criteria aside and offer the position to the person who wants it the most between two people who have the same abilities.

Author’s wish:

A Turkey ruled by women.