Studying gender roles in society implies complex discussions about how men and women are perceived in different environments (inside the household versus outside the household) and in different situations. For a better understanding of the gender representation, their relations and their role in the Turkish family and society, there is necessary a discussion about gendered institutions.
Objective of the Study
The paper aims to develop a research that will analyze the Turkey situation regarding gender roles, inserting elements related to the concept of gendered institutions, which is considered to be a significant issue in preserving the traditional role of men and women in the society.
Significance of the Study
The Basis of Gendered Institutions
The biological differences sets the ground for social stereotypes and this leads to the definition of gendered institution as the totality of gender relations patterns that compose the social institutions, among which stereotypical expectations, work division or interpersonal relationships (Andersen & Taylor, 2013).
The concept of gendered institutions is inextricably linked with the gender relations social construct. Authors treating these subjects connect them as a causal – effect relationship. Friedman defines the term gendered institution as a representation of gender in formal and informal processes and practices that reproduce gender relations (2000). To back up this claim, we need to return to the gender concept. Acker notes that this concept was first used for emphasizing the “social and relational nature of differences between women and men in contrast to biological differences between the sexes” (1992, p. 565).
Acker observes that gendered institutions represent a factual aspect that characterizes societies, which are organized along lines of gender. The author notes that men’s supremacy in activity sectors such a law, politics, religion, economy, state, academy is both historical and present. Men represent the symbol of these institutions, which they developed, and which they are currently dominating (1992).
In Turkey, women mostly play a domestic role, being the central figure of the household, hence, of the family institution. Studies show that most Turkish women, who are employed, are working in the rural area, mostly in services or agriculture. The representation of women in politics or in the employment traditionally dedicated to men is low, although Ozbligin and Woodward show that Turkish women, along with the ones from Britain are making efforts to get a higher representation of women in these activity sectors (2003).
How Gendered Institutions Work?
Within the institutions that are structured upon gender profile, women’s involvement and their mobilization is often marginalized, although this does not imply a conscious privileging of men’s participation (Friedman, 2000). On the contrary, Spade and Valentine argue that men are privileged, as a casual process in the gendered institutions, through linguistic conventions (“chairman, mankind”) or through the involvement of men in the key process of the institutions, which also exclude or marginalize women’s role (2011).
The gendered institutions are enrooted in the social culture, as they are inoculated in the mass perception from an early age. As such, Andersen and Taylor notice that school, the institution which teaches about gender roles is in fact a gendered institutions, because it is “founded on specific gender patterns” (2008, p. 231).
The opinion that women do not “fit” in a given institution often appears as an argument that perpetuates the gendered institution (Friedman, 2000, p. 29).
In Turkey, the gendered institution is sustained through encouraging the domestic labor and by separating the paid employment of domestic labor. Another form of maintaining the gendered institutions in Turkey is through applying the segregation in employment (horizontal and vertical segregation), the so – called glass ceiling approach (Hakim, 1996, in Ozbligin & Woodward, 2003).
Effects of Gendered Institution upon Society
The presence of men is dominating in most of the social, political, economic, juridical, technological institutions. The institution in which women have a central role, although they still follow a subordinate position model, is the family. This social stratification characterizes a society based on production (of the material goods, specific to men) and reproduction (of people, specific to women) (Acker, 1992).
Women’s marginalization or limited presence in the gendered institution violates the principle of equality of rights and the human dignity, hampering society from the opportunity of the optimization of production and limiting its prosperity (Inter – Parliamentary Union, 2003).
The current paper treated the gendered institution concept, as a social construct enrooted in the mass culture, which perpetuates the traditional gender roles in the society and within the family. The Turkish family still faces the dominance of the man, while the woman is the central figure of the household, and of the domestic sphere, being involved in domestic work. The paper revealed that as long as the processes and patterns specific to gender roles and gendered institutions are learned from school, this concept will be inherited form generation to generation and the gendered institutions will continue to exist through marginalization or exclusion, sex segregation in career advancement, which will limit the optimization of production within society, as an effect.
Acker, J. (1992) “From sex roles and gendered institutions”. Contemporary Sociology. Vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 565 – 569.
Andersen, M., L. & Taylor, H., F. (2008) Sociology with Infotrac: understanding a diverse society: Casebound. Thomson Wadsworth: Mason.
Andersen, M., L. & Taylor, H., F. (2013) Sociology: the essentials. Mason Wadsworth: Belmont.
Friedman, E., L. (2000) Unifinished transitions: women and the gendered development democracy in Venezuela. The Pennsylvania State University: Pennsylvania.
Inter – Parliamentary Union. (2003) The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and its optional protocol. United Nations: Switzerland.
Ozbilgin, M. & Woodward, D. (2003) Banking and gender: sex equality in the financial services in Britain and Turkey. Tauris Academic Studies: London.
Spade, J., Z. & Valentine, C., G. (2008) The kaleidoscope of gender: prisms, patterns, and possibilities. Pine Forge Press, Sage Publications, Inc.: New Delhi.