Motivation, Challenges and Strategies in Pursuing Higher Education by Pakistani Women: A Qualitative Study

Article Title: Motivation, Challenges and Strategies in Pursuing Higher Education by Pakistani Women: A Qualitative Study

Author: Saba Abid and Bushra Khan

Institute: Department of Psychology

University: University of Karachi, Karachi

Journal: Bahria Journal of Professional Psychology, July 2017, Vol. 16, No. 2, 55-72


Higher education could be an important source of empowering an individual. Economic independence, high self-confidence and esteem, increased self efficacy, reduced dependency, and more career opportunities are some other positive results for highly educated individuals. Considering the importance of higher education, Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has been taking initiatives for educational reforms in Pakistan and promote higher level of education at national level. Despite of the initiatives taken by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, women’s ratio in higher education is still low as compared to males that might be due to numerous factors. However there are females who despite of challenges, continue with their higher education and understanding of their experiences could help researchers, counselors, educationists and policy makers to identify ways to encourage women participation in higher education. Interestingly there is no study that could report the experiences of such Pakistani women. To the best of the knowledge our study is the first to report their experiences. Therefore, the aim of current qualitative study was to explore experiences of Pakistani women attaining higher education and to explore/examine their motivation for higher studies, difficulties they might be facing and their strategies for dealing with their challenges and continuing their education. In depth interviews were conducted with 25 women enrolled in MPhil leading to PhD program in University of Karachi. Data obtained via interviews were analyzed through content analysis. Themes were identified and reported under the categories of motivations, challenges and strategies. Analysis revealed need for personal development, inspiring teacher as role model and careers demands were the motivating factors while lack of family support, negative stereotypes, lack of financial support and discouraging attitude of teachers were key challenges. They used initiating open communication with the family and their problem solving skills as strategies to overcome challenges and continuing with their education.

Keywords: Higher education, challenges, women, qualitative research, educational psychology, qualitative psychology

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