Becoming a female economic geologist in Turkey

October 20, 2022

by Gülay Sezerer K. MScEng, CPG, EurGeol, UmrekCP, Economic Geologist & General Manager at GSK Geology Consulting

If I am going to express the relationship between me and the earth sciences as an aphorism, I would call it a butterfly effect. When I was a child, a man brought a chalcopyrite-galena-pyrite-bornite to my father’s shop. I was immediately astonished by this sample, comprising part of a mineralized hand-specimen assemblage, which would later become the cornerstone of my curiosity. Afterwards, I was of course going to study it during my time at university.

At university, one of my mentors said that you must do your best wherever you are. I took this advice because I was raised to be a perfectionist by my family. All my life I’ve tried to do the best thing anyway, so I kept following this advice and applied it early in my career, even before I turned 30.

During my high school and university years, Turkey was in a political conflict, which affected everything, for example, the economy, education, etc. Because of these conditions, geological engineering was a required subject for me. However, as I started studying it, earth sciences attracted me. Before going to university, I had never been to a village or a town, I’ve always lived in the center of the city. So, on my first field trip at uni, I slipped and fell into a river. I learned my first real lesson that day: no matter how successful you are in your studies, real achievements won’t come until you put your knowledge into practice in the field.

For me, the first step towards those real achievements was learning how to walk properly on tough terrain and not be afraid of flies. During my geology internship and over the years since, I learned how to read nature, how to get to know people and myself, and earth sciences even taught me how to understand the philosophy of science – every chemical reaction that occurs in humans is similar to earth’s geochemical events.

In the end, after I graduated from a prestigious public university with an honors degree, I started working in different places and on a variety of projects. I began my career at a government institution called The General Directorate of Mineral Research and Exploration, or MTA (analogous to USGS in the US), which takes cognizance of the mentor-apprentice relationships. MTA is the only state geological research institution in Turkey that was sending junior geologists to a general geological mapping camp and was giving projects according to their specialization. I’ve always felt lucky during my years there as I found my mentors and completed a master’s degree in geological engineering. I would like to express my gratitude to the managers there, as they provided gender equality in the workplace. If you were willing to see something, they would send you to the field to gain some experience.

Gülay in the field
Gülay in the field

I started working on metallic mineral deposits geochemistry projects in accordance with my master’s degree. In particular, I gave support to projects involving precious and base metals, nickel, iron, etc. I carried out field studies and laboratory studies, such as mineralogy-petrography, alteration petrography, fluid inclusion studies, and ore microscopy. Over the 20 years in MTA, my life was spent in the mountains in the summer and on the microscope in winter. For the development of metallic projects, I worked both in the field doing mapping, drilling tracking, logging, etc., and in the laboratory with rock petrography, alteration petrography, ore microscopy, and fluid inclusion studies.

During my time at MTA, some of the projects I’ve worked on were the Kayseri-Pınarbaşı Iron Project in Turkey, the Southern Anatolia Geochemical Exploration Project (base metal, precious metal) across the cities Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Adıyaman, Malatya, and the gold-silver project across Kırşehir, Kaman-Savcılıebeyit, and Terziali. I loved all my projects as if they were my children. However, my heart was always set on the ones involving base metals and gold. The experience I gained from working with my mentors, was the most valuable asset from my years with MTA.

After leaving MTA, I moved to Tanzania and started a consulting company called GSK Geology Consulting (Gskgeo). As soon as I got there, I immediately plunged into the depths of Africa with my geologist hammer in my hand and the love of science in my heart. I observed the rocks of granulite and eclogite facies and Banded Iron Formations (BIFs), whilst working in the field. I was walking on the oldest continental craton and it was an incredible feeling for me. As a female economic geologist, the most important person that brought me here was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of my country, who also gave women equal rights. Then and there, my heart filled with gratitude and my eyes with tears. After working at MTA for 20 years, I started supporting a private consulting firm in Tanzania and worked on different projects across many regions of the country, focusing on base metals, gold, and gemstones. Tanzania has different geology, commodities, and terrain from Turkey, for example, granulite and epidote facies rock units, and BIFs.

In the field in Africa
Gülay searching for ruby gemstones in Tanzania.

As an idealistic economic geologist, I have been trying to support projects both in my country and abroad for more than 30 years with Gskgeo. I especially can’t get enough of the pleasure of exploring new greenfields for gold. Some of my new findings in Turkey are the Sivas-Bakırtepe Gold Mineralization, Kırşehir-Boztepe Cimeli Gold Mineralization, Sivas-Yıldızeli Yavu Gold Mineralization, Kayseri-Pınarbaşı, Dikilitaş Gold Mineralization, Sivas, Hafik- Aktaş Gold- Silver Mineralization. In this adventure, as a female geologist, I know that I have to keep fighting as much as I can. If you love your job, everything is easier.

For more information visit:

Read Issue 21 here: 

Issue 21 / 2022