Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

B. Jane Parpart

Second Advisor

Rita Kiki Edozie

Third Advisor

Karen Ross


Purpose –All-women’s higher education institutions serve the goal of offering a highly marginalized population a safe space to learn, mature, grow and develop physically, emotionally and intellectually. What might seem to be an obvious criticism is that a woman can, theoretically, achieve the same in a co-ed institution. Arguably, the scale of this achievement is compromised based upon an ingrained reality of in-bred institutional patriarchy, systemic racism and other forms of systemic and institutional oppression that is bound by accepted cultural and societal norms. As such, the goal of this project is to present a contextualized analysis of a present day women-only institution whose missions and goals draw upon the historical underpinnings of a western-based institution, taking into consideration the elements of context and narrative.

Design/methodology/approach – This study focused on an illustrative case which draws on a culturally responsive research methodology that incorporates participant observation, narrative and context to guide reporting and reflection. The case-study example chosen, the AUW, is an example of all-women’s-only higher education colleges/universities in Bangladesh. As such, there is a purposeful and meaningful shift away from the Western tradition of research (read a high-level theoretical approach) and analysis with a respectful acknowledgement of cultural awareness. Colonialism and the process of decolonialism/decolonization demands that attention be given to the voices of those with relevant lived experiences, hence the use of a methodology of narrative inquiry that allows for an analysis of cultures and human experiences.

The intent of the research is to allow the specific case study institution to supply narratives that have been utilized to illustrate and offer an authentic understanding of the range and types of studies that have been undertaken within a culturally responsive framework. Context is an essential part of the analysis of this research. Context, referring to time period and geographic location, can influence the meaning and interpretation of the analysis, especially the reasons, impacts and outcomes, both real and perceived, of attending an all-women’s higher education institution.

Findings – This research presents an investigation into and an analysis of women’s empowerment and the path toward equality that goes beyond just development outcomes and investigates the transformative potential of higher education in a closed female centered and focused environment. The narratives from the case study institution (the AUW) describes the continued necessity for this type of institution and the impact on the women who attend this type of institution with an essential concern built upon personal viewpoints and experiences.

Originality/value – The thesis offers an ontology that is not framed from a majority western based tradition and analysis. Using reflexivity, criticality, and other epistemological links, the research and analysis uses a methodology of reporting and reflecting that invents, personalizes, crafts and navigates the methodology and methods specific to the context and participants with whom I am working. I challenge unexamined assumptions through the research methods. It is hoped that the thesis can contribute to a more respectful and humble way of working with all peoples, especially in a context that recognizes and respects the process of narrative formation.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.