Last week, TPF announced the first ever award in economics for female graduate students from Turkey in memory of an accomplished Turkish economist, Sena Eken Schieber. Getting ready to step on the path Sena once travelled, award recipients, Sefane and Ipek, are great examples of what women in Turkey can do when given opportunities. The overall reality of gender gap in Turkey is: a lack of choice, of freedom and of opportunity.
This award is personal. The award’s founder and Sena Eken Schieber’s husband, George, wants to enable young women from Turkey who aren’t financially fortunate to get a great education. The award was designed to support promising students who may not have previously been able to consider graduate school in the U.S. as an option. George saw an enormous possibility to support and strengthen female economists to invest in closing the gender gap in Turkey.
Turkey has a low participation of women in the labor market and low proportion of females graduating from college. For young women of Turkey choices are limited and opportunities are scarce.
Hope fades without seeds of opportunity. Many more Turkish women would join the labor force if they were given the opportunity. There has never been a better moment to invest philanthropic funds on closing the gender gap. And, more importantly, the hope gap. With the Sena Eken Schieber Economics Award, George wanted to find and fund the intersection with the greatest gaps—financial, opportunity and hope.
Our first award recipients underscore how opportunities can result in positive change that will scale in time.
Sefane Cetin was born and raised in Bilecik. Inspired by her elementary school teacher whom she embraced as her role model, Sefane’s childhood dream was becoming a teacher. As she grew up, she realized that there is a bigger world out there than her hometown, Bilecik. Thus, instead of pursuing a degree in education, she decided to focus on a field she was always very fond of, mathematics. During her undergraduate studies at Bilkent University, she took elective courses from different departments, and she discovered her true passion – economics. Fascinated by macroeconomics, she got her first master’s degree at the University of Essex as a Jean Monnet scholar. Not satisfied intellectually with a one-year master’s program, she decided to pursue a second master’s degree at Bilkent University. As she focused on her studies, Sefane’s childhood dream was becoming a reality. For more than a year, she has been working part time as a teaching assistant at Bilkent University. She defines sharing her knowledge with students as ‘priceless’ and would like to continue teaching throughout her life. Sefane was recently accepted to Arizona State University (ASU) as well as John Hopkins University for a PhD program in Economics. She chose ASU as their economics department is more focused on her thesis subject- game theories and modeling. This fall, she will come to the U.S. for the first time in her life where she’ll continue her studies under the supervision of some of the finest economists in the world.
Ipek is from Antalya. She moved to Istanbul to study Management at Bogazici University. During her second year, she started taking Economics as her minor. The more she took classes in Economics, the more she was hooked on with the subject. Ipek also started to work as a teaching assistant and fell in love with teaching immediately. Then, she draw herself a new career path. She decided to become a professor of economics so that she can continue teaching as well as researching in her favorite field. Ipek recently got acceptance from Duke University’s master’s program. Since then, she confessed that she couldn’t think about anything else. She is so excited to start her new journey in the U.S.
Young women like Sefane and Ipek are creating new pathways and a sense of possibility. They are bright and passionate but require support for their ranks to grow. And, TPF is proud to provide the platform for their progress.
Turkish Philanthropy Funds exists because of the vision, generosity and focus of philanthropists like George Schieber, who is an Economist himself and is bringing his global knowledge to provide new opportunities to young women of Turkey.
We look forward to the future, as we are sure of these young women’s accomplishments. Thank you George for your vision. For it will take all of us to close the gender gap.