Gender Mainstreaming in Research and On Campus

Since 2010, gender and women’s studies have been a research field under the umbrella of KOÇ-KAM, contributing both theoretically and policy-based studies. KOÇ-KAM covers a wide network of researchers ranging from humanities and social sciences to health sciences, embracing all qualitative, quantitative, discipline-specific and interdisciplinary studies of gender equality. In terms of policy-based research, KOÇ-KAM is a leading institution in communication and cooperation with international organizations such as UN Women and UNESCO, non-governmental organizations, other universities and decision-making bodies. In addition to individual research publications of KOÇ-KAM fellow researchers, we also make contribution to the knowledge of gender and women’s studies through our institutional publications. Individual research outcomes of Koç University fellow researchers in the field of gender equality are published in internationally recognized venues and in the technical reports of international organizations shaping women’s policies. Within the scope of our PhD research programmes, women’s studies are supported under the UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development.

Comparative experiences in the field of women’s rights, the achievements within the framework of the United Nations (UN) conventions and regional human rights documents in particular, have led to a significant collaboration of KOÇ-KAM fellow researchers with UN Women. The foundation of this collaboration was laid in 2014-2017, during a project carried out for UN Women. This project was based on a large-scale legislative monitoring. On the one hand, the laws on the status of women in the family and violence against women in particular were scanned and monitored, while the laws on political representation and participation of women, media, education and organizational structures known as women’s national machineries on the other; and concrete amendments were suggested. At the end of this project, gender mainstreaming programs for legislatures and companies were developed for the implementation of Gender Impact Analysis in decision-making processes.

KOÇ-KAM also plays a central role in the mainstreaming and monitoring of gender equality within the university. The Gender Studies Certificate Program, which aims to ensure that a gender equality-sensitive curriculum, has been enriched with a multidisciplinary contribution and drawn a significant interest. Koç University students are eligible to earn this certificate by completing six courses listed under the program. With the certification program, not only did Koç University set a good example, but also shared this experience with other universities in Türkiye and abroad. KOÇ-KAM has also created an additional “extracurricular activity package” in addition to that program by organizing seminar series, panels and discussions on gender equality within the university with a purpose of raising public awareness and maintaining social consciousness.

The “online training program”, focusing on the subject of sexual harassment, was prepared by KOÇ-KAM with an equitable campus goal and become a leading practice in the fight against sexual assault at the Universities level. We have worked on this online sexual harassment training program for more than one year and made it compatible with country specific legal regulations and Istanbul Convention, to become a first in this area throughout the universities in Türkiye. It is required that each Koç University student and academic, administrative and subcontracted staff to complete this online program, which is designed to increase knowledge and raise awareness on the prevention of sexual harassment. In parallel with the online training program, we have also established an effective investigation mechanism for to examine sexual harassment complaints. An appropriate investigation procedure has been put into effect in which complainants are not subjected to any secondary victimization, their personal rights and the right to privacy are protected and the right to be informed on legal remedies and right to defence are efficiently enforced during the investigation.

In the meantime, KOÇ-KAM’s works on social contribution continues with trainings, capacity building projects and online programs or applications designed for local governments, non-governmental organizations and corporations. We are delighted with the interest shown in capacity building programs focusing on the health and legal aspects of violence against women developed with Sarıyer Municipality, and Eşit Sözlük application developed with Arçelik. In the project within the framework of the MATRA Program funded by the Government of Netherlands, we bring women leadership in the fight against gender stereotypes forward. This project is based on the idea that true leadership means raising up new leaders. It is conducted with approximately 100 participants with various backgrounds from agriculture to education, within the framework of mentorship of women leaders that may provide role modelling.

With the support of Vehbi Koç Foundation, KOÇ-KAM Research Awards Program was initiated in order to encourage young researchers working in the field of women’s studies and form a network bringing together those academics. Since it aims to target prospective rather than already existing researched, this award program plays a significant role in releasing the potential of Türkiye and publicizing those research outputs. We assume the same task with respect to the Human Development Research Award given through our UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development in remembrance of Professor Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı. In this award program, gender equality is considered as an intersectional research area. Also, the research awards and university student specific paper awards provided with the support of Professor Nermin Abadan-Unat aim to reinforce the gender equality research field and interest.

With regard to Koç University, we note that equality of women and men is satisfying in terms of both representation and effective participation at the level of academic and administrative managers, faculty and students. High level of women’s representation particularly at faculty level in departments such as College of Engineering and College of Sciences, fields in which, traditionally, women are not highly represented; and at the management level, the number of women in leadership positions with four deans out of seven and three graduate institute directors out of four reveals significant data from the point of equality of outcome. Undoubtedly, in order to sustain such quantitative data on women’s representation by qualitative practice and policies, systematic action plans towards an equitable campus should be actively implemented. KOÇ-KAM gives support to these action plans to bring Koç University into a leading position in terms of women’s empowerment and gender equality among universities.