The influence of the childhood experiences of women in Bangalore, India, upon their aspirations for their children: socio-cultural and academic perspectives. A community-based study

  • Pooja Haridarshan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Over the past few years there have been significant advances in the participation of women in the economic and public domain, closing of gender gaps in primary and secondary education and in many countries, lower incidences of violence against women (Segran, 2010). However, these achievements have not decreased gender discrimination or patriarchy in Indian society. It may in fact, have become worse in some societies and communities within India, such as the Devanga community which is the focus of this research. A small weaving community that has its roots spread across several states in India, the Devanga community practices stereotypes and patriarchal rules that have ensured male dominance in all aspects of decision making. Despite advances being made in social legislations enabling women to be more empowered, the position of women within this community is still reported to be under debate and discussion, though no prior research has been conducted on this issue in respect of the Devanga community.
This thesis reports research that investigated how the childhood experiences of women in the Devanga community have impacted or continue to impact their aspirations for their children and whether they have made any different provisions for the educational opportunities of their sons when compared to their daughters. The thesis also identifies and discusses what these women perceive their roles in society to be. The objective of this research was to be able to generate data that can be used to support women within this community in their continued efforts to gain access to better educational opportunities and be aware of their rights as individuals.
The research was conducted with a purposive sample of 120 women of the Devanga community from whom data was originally obtained using questionnaires. Since this research aimed at understanding the lives of women in a specific community, an ethnographic feminist perspective was adopted along with a mixed methods approach of following questionnaires with interviews and observations to obtain rich data through in-depth study.
Of the 120 women to whom questionnaires were sent, 96 made returns with 75 consenting to be interviewed.
Data analysis indicated that poverty, early marriage and domestic responsibilities have each been an inhibitory factor in determining the educational paths for children in this community. Women who experienced gender bias in their childhood chose to be more egalitarian towards their children but with little or no support from their families. Some women also have lower aspirations for their daughters than for their sons thus perpetuating their low self-esteem and feeling of worthiness.
From the analysis of data, I conclude that though the women of the Devanga community are bound by strict traditional and stereotyped norms, there is a step towards improvement though this is rather slow in making progress. The findings suggest that despite the progress made by Indian women, they are still considered to be the country's "single largest group of backward citizens." (Bumiller, 1990, p10).
The evidence collected in this research is a strong validation for this statement.
Date of AwardMay 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Preece (Director of Studies), Richard Rose (Supervisor) & Johnson Jament (Supervisor)


  • Gender discrimination
  • Education of Girls
  • Stereotyping
  • Devanga Community
  • India

Cite this