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Issues in Educational Research, 2021, Vol 31(4), 1007-1028.
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Saudi women EFL learners' expressing guilt and defiance discourses: Evolving their gendered identities

Amani K. Alghamdi Hamdan
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia

Rami F. Mustafa
University of Exeter, UK

English is now widely considered the most powerful and influential language in the world. Saudi Arabia believes that its transition from oil to a knowledge-based economy is dependent on its citizenry learning English as a foreign language (EFL). To play their role, Saudi women need access to EFL, access that is affected by their agency and responses to challenging gendered norms. This exploratory qualitative study sheds light on two discourses associated with Saudi women investing in learning EFL: guilt and defiance. Data were collected (2018-2019) via semi-structured interviews with nine Saudi women of various ages, social, educational, employment, and sectarian backgrounds. A thematic analysis revealed how Saudi women exhibited the discourses of guilt and defiance throughout their EFL learning journey. The major guilt subthemes were child rearing guilt, L1 (loss of first language) guilt, and regret for not starting to learn EFL sooner. Defiance subthemes included gendered identity, professional hegemony, and Eurocentrism defiance. Despite personal and other-attributed guilt and shame, study participants defied societal and cultural norms and chose to invest in learning EFL. This study demonstrated the benefit of hearing Saudi women's voices to address the paucity of research targeting their investment in learning EFL.
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Authors: Amani Khalaf Alghamdi Hamdan PhD SFHEA is Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy, College of Education, at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. She is an award-winning scholar with more than 40 Scopus-indexed publications and is well known in the field of education in Saudi Arabia and abroad. Her research interests include education and curricula in Saudi Arabia, analytical and critical thinking and their infusion in teaching, online education and cultural manifestation, higher education, narrative research, and critical multicultural education. Dr Amani has over 26 years of national and international teaching experience, has presented at various international conferences, and published in American, Canadian, Saudi and Australian journals. She is the founder and first vice dean of the female section at the Faculty of Education at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.
ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8500-0266
Email: akhalghamdi@iau.edu.sa, amani.k.hamdan@gmail.com

Rami F. Mustafa EdD is now an associate faculty member at the City University of Seattle in Canada. Dr Mustafai is an independent researcher and has published widely in several educational journals. He has more than 20 years experience in the fields of training and development both nationally and internationally. He has presented his research at various international conferences.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6656-1132
Email: mustafa.rami@gmail.com; mustafarami@cityu.edu

Please cite as: Alghamdi Hamdan, A. K. & Mustafa, R. F. (2021). Saudi women EFL learners' expressing guilt and defiance discourses: Evolving their gendered identities. Issues in Educational Research, 31(4), 1007-1028. http://www.iier.org.au/iier31/alghamdi-hamdan2.pdf

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Created 15 December 2021. Last correction: 15 December 2021. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]