Women elementary school teachers in Turkey: Continuity and change in the formation of a gender identity vis a vis professional ideologies and state policies

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018




This study examines the gender regime of the elementary school teaching profession and the continuities and changes that has taken place in this gender regime within the recent period, drawing upon the life story narratives of the women from different generations. As such, it addresses the gender dimension of the neoliberal transformation in this field, focusing on the changes in professional ideologies and state policies. Elementary-school teaching has come to be considered as proper and respectable occupation for women. Main reason for this is the imagined harmony and complementarity between the nature of womanhood and early-grades teaching, house and classroom, and housework and classroom work. This cultural convention constructing (proper) womanhood and elementary school teaching with reference to each other has created a modern past for the nations, where histories of the profession and of women appear interwoven. This thesis looks closer to the near past and current dynamics of the feminization in the profession which has taken place mostly upon neoliberal transformation. It analysis the gender regime of the profession and the continuities and changes therein throughout the experiences of three generations: Graduates of pre-faculty teacher education institutions, faculty graduates, and those who met the KPSS (PPSE) grade criterion in assignment during times of teacher unemployment. Findings of the study indicate that the female respectability codes once dominated the gender regime has been debilitated in the occupation, with both negative and positive consequences for women’s empowerment.