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Young Adult Women’s Aspirations for Education and Career in Qatar: Active Resistance to Gendered Power

James-Hawkins, Laurie and Al-Attar, Ghada and Yount, Kathryn (2021) 'Young Adult Women’s Aspirations for Education and Career in Qatar: Active Resistance to Gendered Power.' Sex Roles: a journal of research, 85 (5-6). pp. 271-286. ISSN 0360-0025

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Using Komter’s theory of hidden gender power in marriage, we explore how young Qatari women’s aspirations are influenced by their parents, future husbands, and the internalization of social norms about gender dynamics. Using use a convenience sample of 28 interviews with Qatari women, ages 18 to 25 years old and attending university in Qatar, we explore the ways in which women acquiesce to or resist the gendered barriers they face to fulfilling their aspirations for education and career. Interviews were conducted in Arabic and translated into English. Using a qualitative descriptive design for analysis, interviews were coded deductively following the interview guide and then inductively to allow themes to emerge from the data. Our results showed that women experienced an array of forces that shaped their aspirations. Although women did experience some explicit limitations, women more often self-imposed limitations based on their perceptions of what they thought their parents or future husbands would approve. The majority of women engaged in active strategies of negotiation to achieve their goals. Whereas some women recognized the structural constraints imposed on them by prevailing gender norms, other women found ways to counter identified social constraints. We conclude that Komter’s notion of invisible power as entirely unseen should be expanded because many women were “insider-outsiders” and saw how invisible power operated on other women, if not on themselves. We discuss the ways in which structural power affects young women’s aspirations in a strongly patriarchal setting.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emerging Adulthood; Middle East; Patriarchy; Qualitative Research; Sex Roles; Social Norms; Transition to Adulthood; Aspirations
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2020 13:46
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:20

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