Levelling the Playing Field in Business

Times are changing for women in the UAE

Image Courtesy of: gulftoday.ae

Image Courtesy of: gulftoday.ae

By Oxana Tsirelman, Online Editor

The business world is currently undergoing a growing trend: more and more women are entering the playing field. Aya Lowe, staff reporter from the online publication Gulfnews.com cites that, 30% of small and medium businesses in UAE are run or owned by women.

She also explains that, “Women play a central role in the development of the society and in building nations, as they complement men’s role in boosting economic development,” said Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairwoman of the Qasba Development Authority, Vice Chairperson of the Sharjah Ladies Club and Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shorouq).

“The status attained by UAE women in all fields has enabled them to participate in the nation’s development on an equal footing with their male counterparts in many fields,” she said.

The days where women take care of matters pertaining to the kitchen while their husbands bring in the pay cheque are gone. Times are definitely changing; after all, 20 years ago women were expected to clean and cook. Today, however, women are not only part of the workforce, but they are beginning to position themselves on the same playing field as men in business.

“Women are now pursuing professional ambitions – climbing up the corporate ladder or working from home in order to earn their own income, help their husbands financially and live the life of their dreams” notes Mavis Nong.

Another interesting bit of information is that women developed a skill set they can apply to the business world from their household tasks. Business schools play a large part in offering up women to the business workforce.

“In the triumvirate of elite professional educations, women represent 50% of the students in law and medical schools. But most of America’s top business schools are stuck at a female student proportion of around 30%. Levels are even lower, hovering between 20- 25 %, at elite European schools like INSEAD, IMD or IESE,” cites the European Professional Women’s Network.[pullquote]In the triumvirate of elite professional educations, women represent 50% of the students in law and medical schools.[/pullquote]

Unlike men, women aren’t driven so much by money, status and competition. In fact, a Wall Street Journal survey conducted in 2003 found that women are commonly driven by the content and interest of their jobs. That explains why women are drawn to more value based professions such as law and medicine.

According to Stefanie Hughes, “While some stereotypes dictate that women who earn MBA degrees use their business education for humanitarian purposes rather than financial gain, new research suggests that businesswomen now want the same things as their male counterparts.”

Annaleigh Greene, an MBA graduate from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business told a news source that “generally, women don’t just look at the bottom line in terms of what their salary is,” and could likely request “an extra week of vacation, flexible hours or a compressed work week” than a raise.

One of the avenues that women take to enter the business world is enrolling themselves in an MBA program where they are given the adequate training to succeed in this field.


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