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UAEU study looks into parents’ influence on their children’s careers

ABU DHABI // The more educated a father is, the more likely he is to encourage his daughter to take up a high-powered career, a study suggests.

And an Emirati child with parents in the private sector is much more likely to hold similar aspirations, it says.

Before Mariam Al Zaabi had finished university, her father urged her to become a self-sufficient, professional woman.

“He wanted me to be as strong as the men,” said Ms Al Zaabi. “So he said, ‘you need to work and you need to go and earn your degree’.”

Her experience is in line with the two main findings of the study into the influence of parents in their children’s careers, by researchers at UAE University.

Academics polled 335 female Emirati students to see what influenced their career intentions.

Dr Emilie Rutledge, associate professor at the university’s College of Business and Economics, hoped the two findings could help with Emiratisation policy.

“Encouraging more males to undertake tertiary education and continuing with the policy of subsidising the employment costs of nationals will pay longer-term dividends in terms of female labour force participation,” Dr Rutledge said.

An unexpected finding was the lack of influence mothers had over children’s career choice.

“Mothers, irrespective of their educational attainment level, had no significant influence in the career decision making process of their daughters,” said Dr Rutledge.

The survey also asked students whether they wanted to work in the public or private sectors, to which 78.5 per cent responded public .

“Furthermore, 29.6 per cent strongly agreed with the statement that they would ‘wait’ for a government job, as opposed to taking a private sector job in the interim,” the study found.

The respondents also said that if the prospective job were “interesting,” the employer offered maternity leave and employed women role models, it would increase women’s likelihood of entering the workforce, the study found.

“The job being interesting was ranked as the most important and this was subsequently found to significantly increase the likelihood of labour market entry,” the researchers wrote.

While salary was also identified as a factor, “it did not turn out to have a significant relationship” with choice of career.

The study is published in the International Journal of Manpower.

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