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COVID brings positive changes to UAE working women despite employment gap

Young arab woman.

New research commissioned by employment-oriented social network LinkedIn shows that the entitlement gap between men and women persists in UAE’s corporate environment.

The new survey, which involved 2,000 young working professionals, revealed that 65 percent of women and 63 percent of men think that women feel less entitled than their male counterparts in the workplace. This means that women feel less deserving to pay increases, promotion, and career progression.

Entitlement gap

Professionals in the media, communications, and marketing industries have a higher perception of the entitlement gap. Those in the director perception also feel a wider gap, with 77 percent of respondents in this category answering in the affirmative that women feel less entitled than men in the workplace. Only 54 percent of skilled manual workers think the same. 

Thirty percent of the women also think that being granted flexible working hours come with penalties such as the lack of or delay in their career progression. Over a third also think that those given flexible working hours are perceived as less committed than other employees. 

“Maybe the reason behind this feeling is the culture of always being switched on to work-demands. Women have more responsibilities in the household, so they switch off at certain times while their male counterparts always answer that work email. So at some point, they will feel less entitled to ask for that raise because they feel they deserve it less as they are attending to their home life,” LinkedIn’s MENA editor Lynn Chouman said. 

Changes brought by COVID-19

The coronavirus also impacted working women, with 43 percent of the respondents saying that they have either considered leaving their work or leaving the workforce because of the pandemic. 

COVID-19, however, also introduced positive changes that allowed women to have flexible working arrangements. Nearly half of the survey participants said that their company had training and targets for managers to enforce gender-equality policies in the workplace.

The gender gap in employment

According to Catalyst, a non-profit that aims to build workplaces that work for women, only 46.9 percent of women were in the labor force in 2020, a decline from 51.0 percent in 1990. It cited structural barriers and cultural restrictions as factors that contribute to the gender gap in the workplace. 

“Despite an increase of women pursuing higher education globally, a gender gap in employment rates remains among highly educated women and men in some countries. <…> Unpaid caregiving responsibilities can prevent paid employment opportunities, and this work disproportionally falls to women.”

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