HomeFeatured BlogsMajority of Mena women see gender equality in jobs

Majority of Mena women see gender equality in jobs

Women in the Mena region mostly seek employment
in order to be more financially independent.

Majority of Mena women see gender equality in jobs

DUBAI, 2 days ago

While 51 per cent of women in the Mena region consider recruitment and selection opportunities are regardless of gender, 31 per cent believe that women are treated less favourably in terms of salary, a report said.

Women in the Mena region mostly seek employment in order to be more financially independent (48 per cent) and in order to support or financially contribute to their household (46 per cent), added the ‘Status of Working Women in the Middle East’ survey, recently conducted by Bayt.com, a leading career site in the Middle East and YouGov, a research and consulting organization.

For 45 per cent of respondents, taking a job is a means to broaden their perspectives on life.

Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of Mena respondents state that they are employed in a mixed gender workplace, and most respondents have 1-2 years (17 per cent) of work experience in total. 15 per cent have 3-4 years of experience, and 13 per cent have 5-6 years of experience.

Across the region, most respondents state that they work in private multinationals (22 per cent) and private small-medium local companies (21 per cent), followed by large local private sector companies and the public or government sector (16 per cent each).

Mena-wide, most women (22 per cent) are relatively new to their current industry, having spent 1-2 years in it. 53 per cent of women across Mena have spent 2 years or less in their current company.

Gender equality

Two in five women who work in a mixed gender workplace are ‘extremely’ comfortable working in mixed-gender environments, with a further 31 per cent who claim they are comfortable ‘to some extent’. Women working in a mixed gender environment around the Mena region mostly report to a male manager (77 per cent), and have more men than women in their workplace (58 per cent). Two thirds (66 per cent) claim to have no preference regarding the gender of their manager.

Discrimination around the region is considered to be one of the challenges in the work environment by the 23 per cent of the respondents. 55 per cent stated that they were not asked any discriminatory questions during job interviews (such as ‘are you planning to get married?’ or ‘are you planning to have children?’) and 54 per cent of respondents working in a mixed gender environment cannot think of any situation in their workplace where they were either favoured or discriminated against because of their gender.

Most respondents working in mixed gender environments in the Mena region consider men and women to be treated equally when considering the number of working hours (65 per cent), training and development (60 per cent),advice and support (54 per cent) and recruitment and selection (51 per cent).

More concern for equality is present when it comes to benefits (49 per cent state equal treatment, 27 per cent state women are treated less favourably), salary (46 per cent state equal treatment, 31 per cent state women are treated less favourably), and career progression (42 per cent state equal treatment, 33 per cent state women are treated less favourably).

Salary and promotions

The majority of women in the Mena region fall into the $200-2,000 income per month range (60 per cent), 21 per cent of whom earn between $200-500 per month. There is a regional sentiment that men receive more pay than women (43 per cent).

Nearly half (49 per cent) of women working in mixed gender environments around the region believe that their chances of being promoted depend entirely on their performance, and not on gender, though 34 per cent believe that women have a lower chance of getting promoted than men do.

Hiring and appreciation at work
In terms of treatment, 51 per cent of respondents working in mixed gender environments believe that men and women are treated equally in their workplace, though 59 per cent state that some employees get preferential or better treatment than others. In terms of appreciation, the majority (61 per cent) of Mena women working in mixed gender workplaces believe that recognition and rewards are handed out based on performance, and regardless of gender. Nevertheless, 22 per cent believe that men get more appreciation than women employees.

Similarly, 56 per cent of respondents around the region state that job offers are made based on experience and qualifications, with gender playing no role.

Equality compared to western countries

The majority of women around the region (45 per cent) believe that working women in their country have, to some extent, reached the same level of workplace equality as women in Western countries, while 22 per cent believe this to be the case to a large extent.

Mena-wide, women believe that the challenges they face in the workplace are less opportunity for job promotions (46 per cent); a stressful and demanding work environment (40 per cent), and a lack or insufficiency of job training and coaching (34 per cent). Their top three reasons for wanting to change jobs are better salary (70 per cent), better benefits (excluding salary) (29 per cent), and more opportunities for career advancement (25 per cent).

Top benefits

The most common company benefits enjoyed by women in the Mena are personal health insurance (48 per cent), paid maternity leave (35 per cent), and company transport or transport allowance (32 per cent). 64 per cent of working women in the region state that there are no special benefits offered to women by their current employer, though 21 per cent claim their employer offers some special benefits to women employees.

Women in Mena claim the benefits that are most important to them are higher salary (62 per cent), opportunities for long-term career growth (37 per cent), and flexible hours (27 per cent).

When it comes to maternity leave, 26 per cent of women in the Mena state that they have more than 2 months of maternity, but less than 3 months. 24 per cent of them receive 1-2 months. Satisfaction with maternity leave is generally low across the region; 32 per cent claim low satisfaction, with 33 per cent stating neutral feelings.

Close to half (47 per cent) of the respondents say that their company offers no paternity leave for new fathers.

Challenges and happiness

Regionally, Mena women find it hard to find good job opportunities (as stated by 60 per cent). They also consider a lack of opportunities to improve their professional skills (46 per cent) and not having enough opportunities to relax or socialise (38 per cent) to be challenges in their life. It’s also considered hard to lead a healthy lifestyle (32 per cent), and many women (30 per cent) do not feel connected enough within their industry.

Working women in Mena consider their main sources of happiness to be having a successful career (55 per cent); spending time with their family (32 per cent); and making money (30 per cent).

Work, marriage and children

When asked how their career choices have affected their marital life, 35 per cent of married respondents in the Mena region stated it has had no effect at all, versus 33 per cent who claim it has had a positive effect.

Future marriage plans are seen by 35 per cent of Mena women to have an effect to some extent on career choices, though 30 per cent state they have no affect at all.

Two in five women with children in Mena claim that their decision to have children has had no effect on their career, though 31 per cent believe their choice has affected their working life to some extent. For 22 per cent of women, it has affected their career to a large extent.

Labour laws

Across Mena, 43 per cent of women claim to be very familiar with labour laws, with 48 per cent stating they are ‘slightly familiar’ with them. Amongst those who are familiar, 53 per cent say they are fair to some extent, while 21 per cent believe they are fair to a large extent.

The majority (87 per cent) of women participating in this survey work 30 or more hours per week. More than half (53 per cent) are single; 27 per cent are married with children (43 per cent have two children; 33 per cent have one child), and 12 per cent are married without children. Across the Mena region, 41 per cent of respondents have one other person earning a salary in their household; 49 per cent of these women state that the main contribution to their household comes from a man.

Suha Mardelli Haroun, HR director and regional sales manager, Bayt.com, said: “There are clearly mixed sentiments across the Mena region with regards to women’s opinions of equality in the workplace. Women feel treated equally competent to men across many skill-sets and continues to be narrowing quickly. Employers should take advantage of this skill level to enlarge the talent pool, and perhaps take it as an opportunity to recalibrate on elements such as salary, benefits and advancement opportunities. The fact that these improve the gender equality gap and workplace engagement will go towards positive alignment in levelling out the playing field for all employees.”

Emilene Parry, senior research executive, YouGov, said: “It is encouraging to see that many women in the Mena region believe their country of residence provides the same level of gender equality as many Western countries. As the majority of working respondents in the region put ‘having a successful career’ among their top three sources of happiness, companies should look for ways to appeal to today’s career-oriented women.” – TradeArabia News Service

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