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Malay Muslim Academic Women in Dual-Career Families: Negotiating Religious and Cultural Identities and Practices

Jamil Osman, Zuraini (2013) Malay Muslim Academic Women in Dual-Career Families: Negotiating Religious and Cultural Identities and Practices. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This study focuses on Malay Muslim academic women in dual-career families in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia. I conducted semi-structured, in-depth face-to-face interviews with ten married academic women, five single female academics and three single male academics, while ten husbands of the married women were interviewed via email. The context in which modern Malay Muslim women operate is a complex one. On the one hand, Islam and the Malay adat (customary law), constructed as central to the ethnic identity of Malay Muslims, prescribe specific gendered expectations for women and men in both the private and public spheres. On the other hand, the state and global competition demand that women participate in the economy as well as in broader societal contexts. I explored how my respondents strategised in both employment and family life within the boundaries of their identity as Malay Muslim women. My study emphasised central aspects of Malaysian modernisation in relation to women, namely: education, employment, marriage and family, as well as family and working responsibilities and coping strategies. I found that access to education and the acceptance of women in employment had led my participants to pursue careers. With a recognised educational and career background, they had a degree of independence within marriage and in the formation of a family. After marriage, all these women had to abide by the accepted norms of gender, accepting their secondary position within and outside the family. At the same time, they revealed the importance of support networks in terms of family members, spouses and government policies, as well as being dependent on other women’s reproductive labour (e.g. childcare centres or domestic helpers), in helping them to balance their family and career commitments. I argue that the women had some autonomy based on their education and employment, but this remained a subordinated category. Complications arose because the women still needed to manage and negotiate their position within their identity as Malay Muslim women and the patriarchal system ingrained in their culture. While Malaysia’s drive for modernisation has improved women’s lives, it has not radically transformed the patriarchal order.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Malay Muslim academic women, career women, dual-career families, work and family responsibilities
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.685263
Depositing User: Miss Zuraini Jamil Osman
Date Deposited: 17 May 2016 10:43
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:34
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13086

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