How to Deal and Negotiate with the Campus Environment? Female Students’ Experiences in Reconstructing Gender Identity

Mustofa, Kacung Marijan, Mohammad Romadhoni, Beni Setiawan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Being an ‘ideal woman of Muslim version,’ or muslimah in Indonesia, is the expectation from any family, and studying at pesantren (Islamic boarding school) is an option. However, female students confronted cultural shock when switching to a campus environment and experienced identity mediation. Experiences of study and interaction with the campus environment as well as the confrontation of gender norms between different pesantren and university, require them to renegotiate the meaning of gender and reinterpret Islamic teachings to meet their developing identity needs. To enhance our comprehension of the potential impact of higher education on gender identity negotiations, this study researched three female students who graduated from pesantren and then continued their education at university. The researchers employed in-depth interviews, discussions, and sharing of experiences through essays to obtain comprehensive information. This study found that pesantren and campus create an environment for thinking development. Some took the middle path to become more moderate, and others even resisted the pesantren doctrine. It generates novel assumptions concerning gender rather than the two prevalent perspectives, traditionalists who preserve the old system or principles and feminists who battle for gender justice based on their interpretation. Therefore, it is suggested that pesantren begin to adapt to the curriculum and public-school materials relevant to the era. Preserving a conservative notion of gender will diminish interest in studying at the pesantren.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-34
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2023


  • academic environment
  • gender
  • negotiating female student
  • pesantren education


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