It has been five years since Farzaneh Attarbashi started to climb skyscrapers in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad for a living, spending hours hanging in the air while welding, drilling and installing glasses on windows.
A resident of the city, Farzaneh has gone against tradition and her own family to choose the profession and prove that there is no concrete line between genders when it comes to choosing a job; especially one that is widely viewed as masculine.
She chose the job after what was supposed to be a one-off exciting experience of working at height. The experience was so phenomenal that Farzaneh closed her clothing store in one of Mashhad’s shopping centres and became a height worker. She made the decision despite her family’s objections. Today, she carries out construction projects on Mashhad’s main skyscrapers.
Farzaneh is the only woman in Iran with an international diploma in this field.
“The profession is highly useful in the areas of construction and urban services,” she said.
To most people, working at height is restricted to washing the glasses of towers and skyscrapers. But Farzaneh says the profession has way more potential and can help firefighting and rescue operations as well.
“I think even a woman can play a key role in these operations. Parts of our profession deal with facade dowels and sealing. Sometimes, we wash and light the façade. All these operations take place at height,” she said.
In an interview with Shahrvand newspaper, Farzaneh has talked more about her profession. Below you can read an excerpt.
Q: How exciting is working at height that you are willing to put up with all these dangers? Is it for the high income or you are just so interested in what you do?
A: I had good income before choosing this profession. I changed my job because I wanted to do something to pacify my soul. Climbing up a building makes me feel better. While on the ground, I get headache. But when I’m at height, I feel good. I work on average seven to eight hours per day.
Q: How do ordinary people react to your profession?
A: Frankly, in the early days I was afraid of people’s judgments. When I put on my uniform, people used to watch me with surprise. But gradually they became accustomed to the scene and started to send positive energy. Five years on, people are used to seeing a woman who climbs a skyscraper. When I’m hanging from residential towers, the female residents come to the window and take selfies with me. They even bring tea and cookies. We talk when I’m working. Sometimes, people on the ground greet me as a man because they don’t recognize that it is a woman working at height.
Q: How do your entrepreneurs deal with you? Have you ever received any sexist reactions?
A: In the early days of my career, yes. Sometimes they had some sexist views and even made fun of me. But I insisted on my job and fought for it till I managed to prove that the career has nothing to do with the gender. Now, after five years, I launch my projects alone. Believe it or not, the largest projects in this area are carried out by me.
Q: Tell us about the difficulties you face on the job.
A: The first mistake is your last mistake. But if you check all safety measures, nothing will happen. The climate is also important for us. We can’t climb the skyscrapers in bad weather. But above all, the most difficulty I face in my job is the traditional view of the society who take it as a masculine job.
Q: How did you come up with the traditional view?
A: I’m a woman who is interested in, as some people say, a masculine job. I do my job far better and more accurate compared with others. On the other side, I haven’t lost my femininity. I do my chores at home as a housewife.
Below you can see Quds Online’s photos of Farzaneh at work: