Thesis

Women struggling to achieve higher education: a cultural comparison of Pakistani and American Pakistani women

My intention for this comparison study was to bring awareness to the struggles of Pakistani and American Pakistani women’s in achieving higher education. Additionally, the study measured the influence of social construction of gender, parental expectations, socioeconomic status, culture, and gender dynamics within family and education of Pakistani and American Pakistani women in pursuit of their educational goals. Through quantitative and qualitative data, the researcher reached several conclusions. The results indicated that parental expectations, experience with education system and culture, socioeconomic status and gender dynamics within family, and gender dynamics within education affected the participants of this study in a significant way. The quantitative data indicated to the researcher that both American Pakistani and Pakistani participants in this study holds a high regard and respect for parental expectations. Respondents in this particular sample had varied experience with education system and culture. Specifically, American Pakistani women reported positive attitudes about the American education system and culture. In comparison, 69% of Pakistani women strongly supported the Pakistani education system while 31% disagreed. Inconsistencies with attitudes toward Pakistani education system are due to inequalities and access to education. Even though quantitative data on socioeconomic status and gender dynamics within the family opposed disparities and inequalities in women’s education, discussion of the same issues in qualitative results reported otherwise. Similarly, participants in this study strongly favored that their gender does not define their performance in education. Yet, thematic analysis of qualitative data that asked participants’ interpretations on barriers keeping women from achieving their educational goals exposed contradictory results.

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