Gender-based challenges and coping strategies in academia in Turkey

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Turkey

Approval Date: 2019

Student: Ece Yılmaz



This study aims to reveal gender-based individual, social, institutional and structural challenges academics face in their careers in Turkey. The theoretical framework was shaped by feminist standpoint theory which allowed a critical perspective to the traditional conceptualization of ideal worker. The data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews from 10 male and 10 female academics working in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. The findings revealed four main themes. Firstly, some differences were found in how male and female academics experience, conceptualize and perceive success. Women were found to be have to make some concessions to look successful and fit in the ideal worker stereotype. There were also gender-based differences self-promotion patterns. Secondly, double standards for male and female academics, gender stereotypes that affect these processes, and male networks were found to influence gender inequalities in hiring and promotion. Thirdly, women experienced work-life conflict more seriously than their male colleagues. In addition, this study revealed that women face sexual harassment and gender-based mobbing more in academia. As to the coping strategies, some gender-based differences were discovered. To fit in a system organized around male norms, women had to make more self-sacrifices and work harder to become successful and reconcile work and life. These findings were discussed as individual, social, institutional and structural level challenges and the relations among these different levels were highlighted. As gender inequality in academia has different and interconnected levels as shown, this study calls for a systematic and multi-level approach to combat gender inequality in academia.