Bhopal, Kalwant and Khambhaita, Priya
Asian women in higher education: support networks, success and aspects of ‘localism’
At The 8th International Gender and Education Association Conference.
27 - 29 Apr 2011.
Full text not available from this repository.
This paper will examine the support networks available to Asian women whilst studying at a ‘new’ (post-1992) university. It will explore the strategies of success associated with community membership that Asian women use whilst at university. The paper is based on 45 in-depth interviews carried out with Indian, Sikh and Muslim women who were studying for a Social Sciences or Education Studies degree. All of the interviews were tape-recorded and subsequently transcribed. The findings examine how women form particular communities whilst at university (Bhopal, 2010) – these in effect are translated into ‘communities of practice’ (Wenger, 1998). It is through these ‘communities of practice’ that women are able to support each other by regular interaction, shared language and support for assignments and exams. Part of this ‘community of practice’ is based on the issue of ‘localism’ and ‘critical mass’ and is associated with particular boundaries of membership. Many of the Asian women chose to attend their local university as they felt their experience in higher education would include women who were ‘like them’ and with whom they could identify. Such attendance enabled women to draw support from the communities of practice they were engaged in within the university. The idea of identifying with like minded students encouraged women to draw support from each other in an environment in which many of the women identified as ‘outsiders’.
The paper will also explore quantitative data which supports the notion of ‘localism’. Differences in the accommodation choices made by female students from the White and Asian communities are highlighted. HESA enrolment data for academic years 1998 and 2005 are used in the analysis presented here in order to explore (i) the decision to move out of the parental/guardian home whilst attending university and (ii) the decision to move out of one’s home region conditional on the fact a student is not living in the parental home. Findings suggest that Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi female students are all more likely to live in the parental/guardian home than White students. Students from all three Asian groups that do move out are less likely to attend a university outside their home region. These patterns are persistent in both 1998 and 2005. The key changes between this period included an increase in students recorded as living in their parental/guardian home. More students that did move out decided to stay in their region in 2005 than they had done in the earlier year. Finally, in 1998 the Indian group was quite distinct from the other two Asian groups in that it was very similar to the White group in terms of the decision to live in the parental home. In 2005, this gap reduces and the Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups behave more similarly to the Indian and White groups
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