A Post Structural Inquiry into Female ESL Learners’ Gender Identities at a Public University in Pakistan

  • Saima Murtaza Pandhiani
  • Dr. Sumera Umrani
Keywords: Identity, Gender Roles, Power, L2 Learning.


The present study investigates how English language learning interacts with the gender identities and roles of female learners at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan. Who learns what and how, is influenced by the learners’ gendered and sexualized identities (Pavlenko, 2004). Language learners have to navigate power relations within the classroom and their specific communities and develop understanding of their limitations and opportunities within these communities. Institutional practices and gender ideologies inhibit their access to networks which in turn affect their linguistic output and interactional opportunities. Within Interpretive epistemological framework eight female learners of final year (fourth year) Linguistics studying at IELL were interviewed and observed twice during one year to gather data for the present study. From the data it appeared that Pakistani females’ access to linguistic resources is mediated by cultural norms and societal expectations. Throughout their academic journeys the learners’ agency remained active due to which they were able to invest in their ESL learning and challenge socially imposed identities on them.