Life before and after the ban: experiences of women physicians with headscarves in public health sector in Turkey

Köşger, Ayşe Sena
The headscarf issue has been a substantial controversy for veiled women at work until the abolition of the headscarf ban in public institutions in 2013. Since then, veiled women have been working freely in public institutions. The abolition of the headscarf ban was introduced as a solution to veiled women's headscarf- and work-related problems. However, the current state of veiled women at work has not been inquired. This thesis analyzes veiled women physicians’ workplace experiences in Turkey's public health sector and tries to identify lingering effects of the headscarf issue, if any. Although the state of women physicians in the medical workplace and the relationship between veiled women and work have been studied widely, none of these studies focus on the state of veiled women physicians working in public health institutions after the abolition of the headscarf ban. To assess the effects of the headscarf issue on veiled women physicians in the medical workplace, semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-one veiled physicians who experienced the headscarf ban in their lives and are currently working in public health institutions in Ankara. This study found that the prior headscarf ban affected veiled women physicians' medical specialty and workplace choices. Today, the ban's repercussions continue to some extent, and the headscarf shapes veiled physicians' workplace experiences negatively and positively. While some patients are pleased to be treated by veiled physicians, some medical professors are dissatisfied with having veiled physicians in their workplace. The medical hierarchy exacerbates the headscarf-based discrimination in the medical workplace.


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Citation Formats
A. S. Köşger, “Life before and after the ban: experiences of women physicians with headscarves in public health sector in Turkey,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2021.