Doing gender, modestly: Conceptualizing workplace experiences of Pakistani women doctors

Ayesha Masood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the theoretical framework of inequality regimes, this article offers a reconceptualization of purdah as it is practised, lived and experienced by women doctors of Pakistan. Based on an ethnographic study of Pakistani women doctors, this research indicates that practising purdah in the workplace is perceived as doing femininity within the hegemonic masculine workplace culture of Pakistan. In Pakistani organizations, individual and institutionalized practices of purdah create a gendered substructure which marginalizes women doctors by dictating the norms of conduct, international ethics, organization of physical space and work allocation. Patriarchal interpretations of religious doctrines of modesty provide legitimacy to the existence of these inequality regimes. Based on this, the article argues for a system-level theorization of purdah that accounts for both individual and institutional norms of veil. Such conceptualization contributes to our understanding of how religion intersects with gender, class and race to create complex systemic inequities in organizational structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-228
Number of pages15
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Muslim women
  • Pakistan
  • organizational ethnography
  • veil
  • workplace experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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