In 2018 as part of a research project co-funded by SU Gender, Research Worldwide Istanbul and Raoul Wallenberg Institute – we conducted 15 expert interviews with individuals who have undertaken gender equality actions in eight universities. We also organized a workshop and an expert meeting, to evaluate gender equality actions and mechanisms in a selected number of universities in Turkey in terms of their actors as well as the formal and informal mechanisms employed to promote gender equality. The interviewees were selected to represent the diversity of actions, university types and geographical regions. Our findings are compiled in a report, which is currently available in Turkish.
In this research, we concentrated on (1) the experience of being a woman in academia, and (2) gender equality mechanisms in academia. Asked about their experiences in academia, the academic women identify the following several issue areas as most pressing: the low numbers of women in leadership and decision-making positions, glass ceilings, gender imbalance on academic recruitment and promotion boards and committees, gender discriminative patterns in recruitments and evaluations of academic performance, unequal distribution of research funds, women’s disproportionate access to information regarding funding opportunities, overt and covert sexism, gender-insensitive language use, sexual harassment, dating violence, lack of campus safety and mobbing.
Concerning gender-equality-mechanisms, diverse action strategies can be observed depending on the universities’ characteristics. Whether it is a private or a public university, or established in the center or periphery, in a big or a small city make a difference in terms of what can be done or achieved. Besides feminist oriented, gender studies researchers, the main driving forces for gender equality are gender and women’s studies centers and networks, EU based project networks, NGOs, grant-giving foundations and grassroots feminist networks and activists. Within the university the Inter-University Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention Network (CTS Ağı), (feminist) student clubs and other likewise networks also have a key role to play. We see a wide range of actions, including institutional transformation projects for developing gender action plans and project-based gender equality actions. The more individually run awareness-raising programs are mainly undertaken with the collaboration of students and academics.