Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Women at work

Apparently, only 7 out of every 100 women in Dubai occupy senior managerial positions in both non-governmental and governmental organisations. Something is finally being done about it, with the UAE Ministry of Education involved in developing programs designed to boost this number. This is wonderful news, but I think more needs to be done to help encourage women in management (or women in the workforce in general).

I have noticed, ever since I moved here, that there are much fewer women in many of the offices I have been to, including mine. A few of my colleagues have told me that some employers are reticent to employ women, because they are more unstable than men...meaning, they are more likely to leave if they get pregnant, or more likely to move if their husband gets relocated to another country. Which is utter crap if you ask me!

Why do employers only see women in a negative light? How about the positive attributes women bring to the workplace? I do not want to stereotype in any way, but I really think that women are generally more attentive to details, they are more patient, and they also allow for a more professional atmosphere at work (men behave better when women are around!). They also definitely bring a different perspective to things.

And why is it that instead of not hiring women because they might get pregnant, these companies do not give women more benefits. For example, longer maternity leave. I was shocked when I found out maternity leave is only about a month here. It's a whole year in Canada! And why can't companies give women the flexibility of working one day from home (whenever possible of course). Again, in Canada, many companies allow women to work from home on Fridays (the last day of the work week).

How about opening daycare centers that are next to work, or within the same building as where the office is? This may not be possible for smaller companies, but large multinationals can definitely afford to do this. It would allow women to rest assured that their children are being taken care of by professionals, and they can even pop by to visit their kids during their lunch break for example. I'm not saying companies should bear the cost of this daycare, but it could be partially subsidised by the company.

All this to say, if companies really want to encourage women in the workplace, whether for a managerial position or not, there needs to be a drastic change in their policies.

It's difficult, in a city where everyone seems to be a workaholic, where leaving at 6PM sharp is unheard of, and where it's normal to work on weekends...but it's not impossible!


nzm said...

My company is a lot different in its thinking - thank goodness.

I guess that it's more flexible given that we're a small team in the Dubai office.

Of the 9 people that work here, 4 are women. 2 have families, and the management has worked with them to ensure that they are there for their families when needed.

One of the women starts work earlier than the rest so that she can be home for her kids when they get back from school.

To an extent, we can all work glide time. If we're late for any reason (traffic etc), we stay later to complete our hours. We also have Friday and Saturday as our weekend.

There's give and take - it's a nice environment to be in. It means that there's no unnecessary pressure - we know what's expected of us and we get on and do it. Creates a better loyalty towards the company too.


Dubai Sunshine said...

There are always exceptions to every rule. I am not saying EVERY company in Dubai does not encourage women in the workforce...But I just get the feeling that this is the general opinon of employers when it comes to employing women.

Your company NZM is a great example of how employers can be flexible...and like you said, it makes all the difference in the world when the work environment is a happy, relaxed atmosphere. I also think this is easier to achieve in a smaller company...bigger companies become more corporate and formal, which makes it hard to accomodate everyone's needs.