In oil-rich Iraq, a few women buck norms, take rig site jobs

Ayat Rawthan, a petrochemical engineer, poses for a photo near an oil field outside Basra, Iraq. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Nabil al-Jourani

A handful of women in Iraq are becoming trailblazers in the country's oil industry by taking up the grueling work at rig sites across the country.

Posted: Feb 28, 2021 9:19 AM

BASRA, Iraq (AP) — In Iraq, a handful of women are eschewing the dreary office jobs typically handed to female petrochemical engineers and choosing instead to become trailblazers in the country’s oil industry by taking up the grueling work at rig sites across the country.

The hours are long and the weather unforgiving. Often they are asked what they are doing there.

They are part of a new generation of talented Iraqi women who are testing the limits imposed by their conservative communities. Their determination to find jobs in a historically male-dominated industry is a striking example of the way a burgeoning youth population finds itself increasingly at odds with deeply entrenched and conservative tribal traditions prevalent in Iraq’s southern oil heartland.

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