Navigating Respectability in Patriarchal Contexts: Ethical Dilemmas of Women Researchers in Pakistan

  • Sarah Holz (Author)
  • Abida Bano (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The article explores the field research experiences of two women researchers who navigated patriarchal social dynamics in Pakistan. We use respectability as a lens to explain how we established ourselves in our research contexts and how we negotiated our positions. Drawing on extensive fieldwork for our PhD studies, we show the moral conundrums of constantly moving on a spectrum of being both a “respectable” woman and a “woman researcher”. We had to navigate both identities carefully to access research respondents and build rapport. This meant at times adhering to patriarchal gender norms, while in other situations, willingly or unwillingly, transgressing them. We show that we had to constantly mediate between professional goals, personal and social norms and values, and our own wellbeing. We thereby seek to contribute to discussions on the vulnerability of researchers and the ethics of care.


Research ethics, fieldwork, gender, patriarchy, feminism, ethics of care, Pakistan