Dr Rama Devi delivers an invited lecture at Saveetha School of Law, Chennai, and co-authors a paper published in the Sociological Bulletin

Dr Rama Devi, Visiting Assistant Professor, SIAS, Krea University, delivered an invited lecture titled Domesticity and Autonomy: Occupational Imageries and Employable Skills of Educated Dalit Women, at the National Seminar on Gendering Social Relations: Caste, Wage Work, Literature and Law organised by Saveetha School of Law, Chennai.

About the Talk 

Education is conceived as a powerful and political instrument to gain autonomy, agency, and empowerment for marginalised communities. For women, it holds the promise of liberation from their economic dependence on men by creating several possibilities to gain economic independence, assertive expression of voice, and navigating the tight grasp of patriarchal norms in their everyday lives. This lecture traces how education intersects with gender, norms of domesticity, and modern occupational aspirations to reproduce the ideal of respectable women in the neo-liberal economy.

Dr Rama Devi has also co-authored a paper with Dr Sawmya Ray, IITGuwahati. Titled We Know What is Good for Her: Hunar and Respectable Work for Women, the paper has been published in the Sociological Bulletin. 


Education is often conflated with women’s empowerment. Access to formal education is considered to possess the potential to usher in the elimination of the imposed dependence of women on men by enhancing their employability and easing their entry into the labour market. This article argues that establishing such simplistic interconnections evades hidden constraints of sociocultural conditions entwined with patriarchal ideologies that influence and even partially prohibit women’s access to education vis-a-vis employment, resulting in their marginalisation in the labour market. Examining the nature of educational access and occupational aspirations, of urban women residing in a Delhi settlement, the article shows that patriarchal ideology impresses and controls the nature and outcome of the education they obtain. In the settlement, while most young girls are pursuing higher education, not everyone is expected to channelise their educational degrees to secure paid employment. Unlike men, women are not encouraged to engage in every form of work as the nature of female occupation is tied to notions of honour and disgrace of the family. Locally prevailing patriarchal norms dictate and define what constitutes respectable work for women. They are permitted to aspire and engage in reputable work.

Read the paper here. 

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