← ESA 2015 homepage

Careers I


Fri 28. 8.  14:00 - 15:30
room FA 548

How to Achieve “Total Success”: Being a ‘Woman’ and a New Middle Class Member in Urban Turkey


Akcan, Hasan Kürşat
Ankara University, Turkey

Success is an integral, if not a central, part of being a member of the new middle class. This is not only related to educational and professional success but also requires the individual to meet the expectations of the society in terms of stereotypical gender role performances. The aim of this study is to investigate how women of the new middle class manifest and accommodate their femininities at work environment in urban Turkey. We performed in-depth interviews with 17 women who live in the two biggest metropolises of Turkey and work in private service sector in professional and managerial positions. Their narratives suggested that their ideas of being a woman at work is contested or negotiated in line with discourses of the “super-woman myth”. Our participants generally assumed a connection between being a good mother, a good wife, at times using their feminine charms and their professional advancement which one participant defined as “total success”. Accordingly, on the one hand, gendered aspects of women’s success necessitates a certain form of patriarchal restriction and on the other hand, seemingly yield a performative field in the service sector for their emphasized femininity. This ambiguous position ultimately shows the fragility of class and gender identity and how they depend on myth building. This is one of the few studies in literature from Turkey that investigates the labor process associated with female gender roles and the new middle class.