Critical discourse analysis of gender policy in Turkish education: evidence from policy documents and print media

Küçükakın Mercan, Pınar
The purpose of the study was threefold: (1) to examine policy discourses on gender policy in education in the last decade in Turkey, (2) to examine media discourses on gender policy in education in the last decade in Turkey, and (3) to examine teachers’ views of gender policy in education in the last decade in Turkey. The study utilized critical discourse analysis as a research tool to investigate the discursive implications of gender equality/inequality in education embedded in language and information of educational policy documents and print media. The textual discourse analysis involved 124 publicly available policy documents published by 12 organizations and a total of 252 newspaper clippings published in 14 different national newspapers in the last decade. In order to investigate the perceptions of teachers regarding these policies and news reports, interviews were conducted with 13 teachers working at different levels of education in Ankara. Results indicated that there were indicators of gender inequalities at each stage of policy making, from policy formulation to implementation. While official statements seemed to be in line with gender equality perspective, inconsistencies underlying most educational policies created a political reality causing gender inequalities in Turkish context. It was also revealed that media coverage of this policy discourse reinforced the ways patriarchy and policy collides in Turkey. Participating teachers provided examples of sexist practices at schools stemming from gender norms and dominant patriarchal culture. Namely, structure of the curriculum, sexist practices and gender discrimination at schools created gender inequalities in education.