Aspirations of South Asian Women in British Higher Education
Choices over the uptake of post- compulsory education for Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi young women are much more complex than for their male counterparts or their white counterparts. These women's educational choices are influenced not just by structural and human capital factors but also by cultural expectations that are exerted largely through the family. However, these operate in different ways for Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi women and according to social class background. This paper looks at the way in which respondents interviewed talked about the family being central to their lives and the decisions they made in particular those concerning education. None of the women interviewed were without support from the family and neither did they believe they could not have gone onto higher education without the support of their parents. Whilst the interviewees subscribed strongly to the centrality of the family, it is clear that the vast majority followed very different routes from their mothers. But for these women they face contradictory pressures on their pursuit of HE. Whilst the young women themselves may value education as an end in itself or for its labour market value, their families may value their daughters' education for reasons of family status and dowry purposes. This paper also considers the relationships between the young women and their siblings, and the importance of this in their experience of HE.
Keywords: Ethnicity, Gender, Education
Dr Yasmin Hussain
Lecturer, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds
Dr. Paul Bagguley
Senior Lecturer, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds