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Powered by, one of the most popular daily English language newspapers in the United Arab Emirates.

Women shattering job barriers

08/15/2009 10:30 PM | By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief

Al Ain: Working Emirati women appear to be more satisfied with teaching and administrative positions rather than regular office jobs, said research that recommends high-quality career information be made available to them.

The countrywide study, conducted by a UAE University (UAEU) sociologist, analysed various factors that have an influence on the job satisfaction of Emirati women. He collected information about the women's ages, level of education, income, type of occupation, marital status and the effects of conservatism.

UAE society, said the report, is in a state of flux but the state has become increasingly supportive of women in many work fields, offering wider educational opportunities.

"Modern Emirati women can now be found working in government, engineering, science, healthcare, media, computer technology, law, commerce and the oil industry," said Mousa Shallal, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the university.

He said modern Emirati women have started to take untraditional jobs that demand they work side by side with men.

"Yet, in general it is still early for all women to feel comfortable doing that."

The UAE, he said, is considered an open society compared to other countries in the Gulf region. According to 2005 census data, women account for 49.3 per cent of the national population. Their percentage in the country's business community is growing continuously and they contribute about $3.4 billion (Dh12.48 billion) to the UAE economy.

"But still, their average number is relatively small. This is due to a number of factors, such as company restrictions on the numbers of females employed; the fact that many UAE women cease working after marriage and bearing children. Also the traditional views regarding a woman's place in the family is still strong," he said.

Professor Shallal distributed some 1,500 questionnaires to working Emirati women for the study, out of which 1,272 were completed.

Trained students (males and females) from the UAEU participated in the information collection.

Examining different factors during the research, he said Emirati women's job satisfaction and age had a significant relation. Older women were found to be more satisfied overall with their job than their younger colleagues.

"An increase of one year in age increases satisfaction by about one per cent," he said.

It was found that working women with education higher than the secondary level are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those below secondary level education. About 60 per cent of the respondents finished university studies, and about 25 per cent attained post-secondary diplomas.

Married women, he said, are most vulnerable to job strain.

"Consequently they contribute negatively to job satisfaction," he said, adding that married women are significantly dissatisfied with their jobs. Similarly, conservatism is significantly negatively related to job satisfaction.

The research recommends a more detailed assessment of Emirati women's job satisfaction and their workplace to expand the knowledge base.

"This is because employed Emirati women's studies are largely under-represented in research in general and in investigations into working women in particular. There is a lack of broad based empirical research specifically related to Emirati women," he added.

Recommendations: Discrimination free

  • Women need an employment free from discrimination and inequality between male and female representation in high paid positions.
  • Women need a fair workplace where mothers can have access to infants and childcare facilities.
  • Women need to increase earnings by having access to high-quality education and training. Especially for those who cannot afford the costs of going to school.
  • Women need to have access to high-quality career information and tools since it is vital for their advancement to satisfying jobs with good pay and decision making positions. Barriers, whether they come as, laws, regulations or others; that women face in the job markets, should be eliminated or reduced to allow them to fully contribute to the nation's building processes.



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