The article aimed to highlight the varied perceptions of students studying Gender Studies as an academic discipline at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Pakistan. The research objective of this article was to document the students’ experiences, perceptions, misconceptions, and anxieties regarding Gender Studies. This research is the result of a continuous journey in this field where we have actively engaged and interacted with students studying in various semesters. The research was qualitative in nature and in-depth interview guidelines were employed to conduct interviews with the students of the Center of Excellence in Gender Studies (CEGS) at QAU, Islamabad. The sample size consisted of 20 students who hailed from different geographical areas of Pakistan and belonged to diverse socio-cultural and economic backgrounds. Additionally, the sample was purposely selected to include only students in their final semester. The study revealed that the instructors teaching Gender Studies were accused of propagating Western theories, and this had become a cause of concern and provocation for many students. A large number of students have indicated that they were unaware or ignorant of this academic discipline and were familiarized only after securing admission based on merit. The research demonstrates that these students were unsure of the scope of the subject and the employment opportunities it offered upon completion of their degree in Gender Studies. The respondents were under the impression that this academic discipline is not only antagonistic to their Pakistani culture but also promotes a Western agenda. A few respondents shared their experiences and pointed out that feminism faces a strong backlash in Pakistani society; hence, they found it difficult to see the relevance of feminism in Pakistan. The research also revealed that studying the discipline of Gender Studies has helped the respondents to introspect, deconstruct, and criticize their preconceived notions about gender and women. While Gender Studies as an academic discipline has equipped the students to deal with gender-based issues, it has also stirred arguments with their families. Lastly, Gender Studies created awareness related to gender issues and helped the students to overcome their misconceptions.

Author Biography

Rabbia Aslam is currently working as a lecturer at the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, with which she has been associated for more than ten years. She is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. With an academic background in sociology and gender, her research and teaching areas include violence, sociology of knowledge, sociology of gender, bifurcation in the education system, postcolonial and decolonial thinking in Pakistan.

Dr. Saad Ali Khan is an Assistant Professor at the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He has completed his Ph.D. at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University. Saad has been associated with the center for the last six years. His research interests include gender and Sufism, Sufism and culture in South Asia, masculinity studies, feminism and the women’s movement in Pakistan, anthropology of religion in Pakistan, gender and International Relations, and the social construction of gender.