Çigdem Çizakça Kagitçibasi was born in Istanbul, Turkey. Her early education was overseen by her parents, who were both teachers, and she went on to attend the academically rigorous and prestigious American College for Girls in Istanbul. There, she mastered English and graduated with the highest academic record in her class. At the age of 19, she flew across the Atlantic to attend Wellesley College.
Dr. Kagitçibasi graduated in 1961 with a B.A. in psychology. After graduation, she pursued a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. While in California, she married Oguz Kagitçibasi. Her studies, which focused on the authoritarian personality and its psychological implications, were put on hold when her father died. She returned to Turkey to help her mother run the family’s school. That year, not only did she expand her family’s school to include a high school, but she also finished her dissertation while taking care of her young daughter. “That was a hard year, indeed!” she remembers.
Her academic career began in 1969, when she was offered a position in the social sciences department of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, where she taught for four years. In 1973, she began teaching at Bosporus University and remained until her retirement from public service in 1995, when she joined the faculty of Koc University in Istanbul.
In 1982, Dr. Kagitçibasi began directing the Turkish Early Enrichment Program, which provided early enrichment to socio-economically disadvantaged children. This program proved to be hugely successful and earned worldwide acclaim; it is now used in Turkey and other countries to aid disadvantaged children.
Dr. Kagitçibasi has been a champion of women and children’s well being, acting as the first female president of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology and as vice president of the International Union of Psychological Science. She has received numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association’s 1993 Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Award.
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