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Seminar: Gendered catchment areas for higher education choice in Haryana, India

In global higher education research, making decisions about whether to attend higher education and which course and institution to choose are widely recognised to be impacted by intersecting factors such as gender, ethnicity and social class. India is no exception, with caste also featuring as an important factor in higher education choice. This presentation focuses on a specific setting, namely the state of Haryana in North India, but relates the findings on higher education choice to global discourses relating to access to higher education. The findings are drawn from a five-year project primarily funded by the Fair Chance Foundation, on gender and access to higher education in the North Indian state of Haryana. The key sites for this project are government colleges, which are relatively low cost, localised institutions providing higher education in India. The presentation is based on Phase I from this project, namely a mixed methods case study of three colleges in three districts of Haryana, and Phase II, an in-depth qualitative study of the involvement of family in higher education decision making. We construct higher education choice as a spatial practice which is gendered according to contextual cultural practices relating to the protection of feminine honour and chastity, the development of breadwinner-style masculinity, and where gendered expectations of young people translate into spatial restrictions on higher education access and choice.

Project Twitter: @FCF Haryana

Project website: www.warwick.ac.uk/haryana


  • Emily Henderson, Associate Professor, Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick, UK (Twitter: @EmilyFrascatore)
  • Nidhi S. Sabharwal, Associate Professor, Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education, National Institute for Educational Administration and Planning, India (Twitter: @01Nidhi)
  • Anjali Thomas, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Education Studies & IAS Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick, UK (Twitter: @AnjaliThomas001)


Dr Emily F. Henderson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Studies, University of Warwick. Emily's research lies in the areas of gender and higher education; the academic profession, academic mobility and conferences; poststructuralist and feminist theory and research methodology. Emily's current research projects include a 5-year project on gender and higher education in Haryana, India. She is also She is co-editor of the academic blog Conference Inference: Blogging the World of Conferences and author of Gender Pedagogy (Palgrave, 2015) and Gender, Definitional Politics and 'Live' Knowledge Production (Routledge, 2020), and co-editor of Starting with Gender in International Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2019) and Exploring Diary Methods in Higher Education Research (Routledge, 2021).

Dr. Nidhi S. Sabharwal is currently an Associate Professor and the In-Charge at the Centre for Policy Research in Higher Education (CPRHE), National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), New Delhi, India. Dr Sabharwal has previously served as the Director at the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi.  Dr. Sabharwal's current research projects include a multi-state study on student diversity and social inclusion in higher education institutions; an evaluation study of the coaching programmes for the socially excluded groups such as the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, the other backward classes and the minorities in Universities and Colleges and is key research partner in a 5-year project on gender and higher education in the state of Haryana, India. She is the co-author of Caste, Discrimination, And Exclusion in Modern India (Sage, 2015), co-editor of Bridging the Social Gap: Perspectives on Dalit Empowerment (Sage, 2014), and co-editor of India Higher Education Report 2016: Equity in Higher Education (Sage, 2018).

Anjali Thomas is a PhD candidate at the Department of Education Studies at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and an Early Career Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study. Her PhD is being funded by the Fair Chance Foundation and the University of Warwick. Her PhD research has informed the Fair Chance for Education Project on gendered pathways to educational success in Haryana, India. Her doctoral research explores the role of families in the gendered educational trajectories of undergraduates accessing Higher Education in Haryana. She has also worked with CORD (Collaborative Research and Dissemination) and ICRW on a qualitative research project. She is interested in exploring researching gender and educational choices.

This seminar is part of the open research series, 'Education, the global South, and Beyond', at the Department of Education. It is being held Thursdays lunchtime, 1 to 2 pm, in the Zoom meeting room. This series aims to create an interactive space for postgraduate students, doctoral and early career researchers, scholars, research practitioners and faculty to meet in a relaxed, supportive and collaborative environment to discuss topics of international education, development and related issues. A Zoom link will also be shared on the Diversity, Equity and Education Collective (DeCol) webpage.

DeCol is a network of international scholars, mostly doctoral, postdoctoral and early career researchers working on issues of education and development. It will aim to expand research and practice in education and beyond by inclusion of multi-disciplinary perspectives, creative approaches, and contextualised understandings of multiple lived realities and experiences in diverse international contexts.
Everyone warmly welcome!

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Meeting ID: 944 4705 0223
Passcode: 9221990819