Berna Çöker


In this study, I aim to provide an analysis of gender equality in the Turkish education system by looking at policies and their outcomes on girl’s schooling. My goal is to demonstrate the ways educational policies have been complicit in reproducing inequality and difference between the sexes by examining what issues regarding education and gender have become a part of public discourse, and which issues have not. The investigation of the role of the state in contributing to gendered outcomes in education is operationalized by two data gathering processes. The first is document analysis of policy documents which are the Article 42. Of the Constitution, Basic Law of National Education. Law 1739, and Basic Education Reform Act. No. 4306. The second is the collection of educational statistics and documents that would shed light to the condition of girls’ education in Turkey. The data draws on policies directly related to education to understand how gender equality is conceptualized. The central finding of the study is that the educational policies and practices in Turkey are based on the premises of “formal equality” and “meritocracy” which aims to provide the same opportunities to every member of society. However, the functional view of schooling based on the concepts of “formal equality” and “meritocracy” fosters the belief that males and females are benefitting equally and serve to mask the inequitable distribution of knowledge and skills between men and women. Therefore, educational policies continue to be gender-neutral, far from challenging the gender dynamics that discriminate against girls and women. Article 42. of the Constitution, the Basic Law of National Education. Law 1739., the Basic Education Reform Act. No. 4306 and its extension, 4+Reform, focuses on the expansion and improvement of primary and secondary education, but does not carry any special measures to change the structures and relations that discriminate against girls. No national policies to counter the impact of negative socialization by curriculum and textbook revision have been adopted. Moreover, high female attrition rates especially in the underdeveloped regions of Turkey continue to exist. Gender-streaming is still apparent in the program choices made in vocational and higher education. Turkey depends on macro education policies without any gender differentiation to ensure educational equality.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


gender equality, critical feminist approach, educational policies, formal equality, equal opportunity policies, meritocracy

Full Text:



Ali, S., Benjamin, S. & Mauthner, M. (2004). The politics of gender and education: Critical perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Alat, Z. & Alat, K. (2011). A qualitative study of parental resistance to girls' schooling. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, (11)3, 1369-1373.

Arslan, S. A. (2000). Ders kitaplarında cinsiyetçilik [Sex-stereotyping in textbooks). Ankara: General Directorate of Women’s Status and Problems.

Arnot, M. & Weiner, G. (1989). Gender and politics of schooling. London: Unwin Hyman.

Aydagül, B. (2019). Turkey’s progress on gender equality in education rests on gender politics. Turkish Policy Quarterly, 18 (1), 45-57.

Ball, S. J. & Gerwirtz, S. (1997). Girls in the education market: choice, competition and complexity. Gender and Education, 9(2), 207–222.

Baron, A. (1987). Feminist legal strategies: The powers of difference. In B.B. Hess & M.F. Ferree (Eds.), Analyzing gender: A handbook of social science research, (pp. 32-54). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Binay, H. (1992). Education in Turkey. Ankara: MEB.

Börkan, B., Levent, H., Dereli, O., Bakış, O. ve Pelek, S. (2014). Temel belirleyicileri açısından ilköğretimde okula devam ve devamsızlık. Ankara: MEB, ERG ve UNICEF

Brink, M. & Benschop, Y. (2011). Gender practices in the construction of academic excellence: Sheep with five legs. Organization 19(4):507-524.

Burstyn, V. (1985). Masculine dominance and the state. In V. Burstyn & D. Smith (Eds.), Women, class, family and the state (pp.45-89). Toronto: Garamond

Cin, M. F., & Walker, M. (2016). Reconsidering girls’ education in Turkey from a capabilities and feminist perspective. International Journal of Educational development, 49, 134-143.

Cin, M., F., Karlıdağ-Dennis, E. & Temiz, Z. (2020). Capabilities-based gender equality analysis of educational policy-making and reform in Turkey. Gender and Education, 32:2, 244-261.

Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power. Cambridge: Polity.

Crudas, L. & Haddock, L. (2005). Engaging girls voices: learning as social practice”. In Problem girls: understanding and supporting troubled and troublesome girls and young women. London: Routledge .

Çimen, C. A., & Bayhan, S. (2018). Ders Kitaplarında Sekülerizm ve Toplumsal Cinsiyet Eşitliği Araştırması Sonuç Raporu [Secularism in Class Books and Findings of the Gender Equality Report], Karşılaştırmalı Eğitim Derneği.

David, M. (2004). A feminist critique of public policy discourses about educational effectiveness. In The politics of gender and education: critical perspectives, (Eds) Ali, S., Benjamin, S. & Muthner, M. L. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Demiray, E. (2015). Problems in women’s education in Turkey. Implementations and suggested solutions. International Journal on New Trends in Education and Their Implications, 6 (1), 1–12

Duman, A. (2010). Female Education Inequality in Turkey: Factors Affecting Girls’ Schooling Decisions. International Journal of Education Economics and Development 1 (3): 243–258.

Eisenstein, Z. R. (1979). Capitalist patriarchy and the case for socialist feminism. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Eisenstein, Z. R. (1988). The female body and the law. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Eisenstein, H. (1996). Inside agitators: Australian femocrats and the state (women in the political economy). Philadelphia: Temple UP.

Francis, B. & Skelton, C. (2005). Reassessing gender and achievement: questioning contemporary key debates. London: Routledge

Gamble, S. (2001). The Routledge companion to feminism and postfeminism. New York: Routledge.

Grossman, H. & Grossman, S.H. (1994). Gender issues in education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Gümüş, S. & Chudgar, A. (2016). Factors affecting school participation in Turkey: an analysis of regional differences. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, (46)6, 929-951, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2015.1095073

Gümüşoğlu, F. (2008). Ders kitaplarında toplumsal cinsiyet: Toplum ve demokrasi, [Gender in school textbooks: society and democracy]. 2 (4), 39-50.

Hauserman, N. (1983). Sexual equality: An essay on the importance of recognizing difference. Legal Studies Forum. 7, 251-169.

Jenson, J. (1986). Gender and reproduction: or, babies and the state. Studies in Political Economy. 20, 9-46.

Kenway, J. (1990). Gender and education policy: a call for new directions. Victoria: Deakin University Press.

Kogan, M. (2018). Educational policy-making: A study of interest groups and parliament. Taylor & Francis.

Kariya, T. & Rappleye, J. (2020). Education, Equality, and Meritocracy in a Global Age: The Japanese Approach. International Perspectives on Educational Reform Series. New York: Teachers College

Mackinnon, C.A. (1983). Feminism, Marxism, method, and the state: Toward feminist jurisprudence. Signs, 8, 635-658.

Marshal, C. (1997). Dismantling and reconstructing policy analysis. In C. Marshal (Ed.), Feminist critical analysis I: A perspective from primary and secondary schooling (p.1-39). London: Falmer.

Maslak, M. A. (2005). Re-positioning Females in the International Educational Context: theoretical frameworks, shared policies, and future directions. Global Trends in Educational Policy, vol. 6, 145-171. Oxford: Elsevier.

McIntosh, M. (1978). The state and the oppression of women. In A, Kuhn and A.M. Wolpe (Eds.), Contemporary feminist debates. Oxford: Polity.

MoNE. (1990). Apprenticeship and vocational-technical education council meetings and resolutions. Ankara: Meb

MoNE. (1993). Ondorduncu Milli Egitim Surasi. 27-29 Evlul: Raporlar. gorusmeler ve kararlar [Fourteenth national education convention, 27-29 September; Reports, meetings and resolutions]. Istanbul: Meb.

MoNE-APK (1997). Non-stop eight-year compulsory Primary education. [Sekiz Yıllık Kesintisiz Zorunlu İlköğretim] MoNE Research, Planning and Coordination Dept. Publication Ankara: Ajans Türk Basın ve Basım Inc.

MoNE (1998). Expanding eight-year continuous compulsory Primary education [Sekiz Yıllık Kesintisiz Zorunlu İlköğretimin Yaygınlaştırılması Raporu], Yayınlanmamış Rapor, Ankara,

MoNE-APK (1999). Non-stop eight-year compulsory Primary education-2. [Sekiz Yıllık Kesintisiz Zorunlu İlköğretim -2]Ankara: T.C. MoNE Research, Planning and Coordination Dept. Publication.

Murphy, P. & Elwood, J. (1998). Gendered learning outside and inside school: influences on achievement. Failing boys? Issues in gender and achievement. Buckingham: Open University Press

National Education Statistics-Formal Education 2010-2011. Accessed June 15, 2020.

National Education Statistics-Formal Education 2018-2019. Accessed June 15, 2020.

Niemi, N. (2005). The emperor has no clothes: examining the impossible relationship between gendered and academic identities in middle school students. Gender and Education. 17(5): 483–497.

Osler, A., Street, C., Lall, M. & Vincent, C. (2002). Not a problem? Girls and exclusion from school. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Peterson, S. V. & Runyan, A. S. (1993). Global gender issues. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Pratt, J., Bloomfield. J., & Seale, C. (1984). Option choice: A question of equal opportunity. Windsor: NFER- Nelson.

Prunty, J. (1985). Signposts for Critical Policy Analysis Work, Australian Journal of Education, 29 (2) p133‐40.

O’Dwyer, J., Aksit, N & Sands. M. (2010). Expanding Educational Access in Eastern Turkey: A New Initiative. International Journal of Educational Development 30 (2): 193–203. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2009.03.005.

Petchesky, R. (1984). Abortion and women's choice: The state, sexuality and reproductive freedom. New York: Longman.

Pratt, J., Bloomfield. J., & Seale, C. (1984). Option choice: A question of equal opportunity. Windsor: NFER- Nelson.

Randall, V. and Waylen G. (Eds.) (1998). Gender, politics and the state. London: Routledge.

Riordan, C. (1990). Girls and boys in school: Together or separate? New York: Teachers College Press.

Schaar, J. H. (1971). Equality of opportunity and beyond. In A. de Cresigny & A. Wertheimer (Eds.), Contemporary political thought (pp. 123-165). London: Nelson

Stanworth, M. (1981). Gender and schooling: A study of sexual divisions in the classroom. London; Hutchinson.

Stromquist, N., P. (1991). Educating women: The political economy of patriarchal states. International Studies in Sociology of Education, (1), 111-127.

Stromquist, N. P. (1997). Gender policies in American education: Reflections on federal legislation and action. In C. Marshall (Ed.), Feminist critical policy analysis I: A perspective from primary and secondary schooling. London: Falmer.

Sutherland, M. B. (1999). Evaluating national policies on gender issues. In S. Erskine and M. Wilson (eds.), Gender issues in international education: Beyond policy and practice (pp.3-22). New York: Falmer press.

Tan, M. ( 2005). Yeni ilkogretim programlari ve toplumsal cinsiyet (New curriculum and gender in education) Egitim, Bilim, Toplum Dergisi, 3 (11), 68-77.

Turkish Higher Education Statistics, 2019-2020 Accessed June 15, 2020.

Unterhalter, E. (2005). Fragmented Frameworks: Researching Women, Gender, Education and Development. In Beyond Access: Developing Gender Equality in Education, edited by S. Aikman, and E. Unterhalter, 15–35. Oxford: Oxfam

Walby, S. (1990). Theorizing Patriarchy. Oxford: Blackwell.

World Economic Forum (2020). Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Accessed June 15 2020.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Berna Çöker

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright © 2015-2023. European Journal of Education Studies (ISSN 2501 - 1111) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All authors who send their manuscripts to this journal and whose articles are published on this journal retain full copyright of their articles. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).