Koç University recently hosted the inaugural BROAD-ER Women in Science Webinar, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities for gender equality in academic settings. The webinar, held on June 12, 2023, featured an insightful talk by Associate Professor Özlem Altan-Olcay from Koç University’s International Relations Department.

During her presentation titled “Gendering the university: institutional structures, the meaning of academic work, and gender norms,” Professor Altan-Olcay delved into several key issues. She addressed the unequal distribution of care labor at home, the impact of gender norms in university environments, and the significance of recognizing and rewarding care work.

Professor Altan-Olcay’s enlightening talk during the BROAD-ER Women in Science Webinar highlighted the urgent need to challenge the prevailing gender norms within academic institutions. By examining the organization and significance of academic work, she shed light on the interconnectedness of gender, care labor, and inequalities in academia.

The discussion encompassed the vital concept of care labor and its impact on the survival of both societies and universities. Professor Altan-Olcay emphasized the significance of recognizing and valuing care work on par with its essential nature. She stressed the importance of redistributing care labor equitably among households, society, and academic faculty, advocating for the representation of care givers in policy-making processes.

Universities, as gendered institutions, have the potential to either reproduce or challenge existing hegemonic gender norms and inequalities. Professor Altan-Olcay’s thought-provoking arguments called for universities to address, challenge, and change these norms through their institutional practices. By recognizing and valuing care labor, reducing its time commitment, and amplifying the voices of those engaged in this work, universities can take a proactive role in creating more inclusive and equitable academic environments.

Audience members had the opportunity to engage with the speaker through a Q&A session, where some thought-provoking questions were raised. The webinar provided a valuable platform for knowledge exchange and discussions on advancing gender equality in academia.

The BROAD-ER Women in Science Webinar Series, organized in collaboration with Koç University and the UNIC project, aims to continue addressing these vital issues. Through future sessions, the series will explore various aspects of gender equality, empowering women researchers and fostering inclusive practices in academic institutions.