'Women prefer men as their bosses in Mena'

Working women in the region are motivated professionally mostly by monetary prospects, and that 65 per cent of them believe that women in mixed gender workplaces receive no special benefit, said the 'Women in the Mena Workplace 2012' survey conducted by Bayt.com and YouGov.

When asked to select any option (or several options) that applies to them when asked about reasons for employment, the majority of women (57 per cent) chose "gain financial independence". This is especially true in KSA, where 65 per cent of women - the highest in the region - stated this as their main objective, as did most Arab women residing in the GCC (58 per cent) and Western women (57 per cent). Meanwhile, six out of 10 Arab women residing in the GCC also chose to work in order to broaden their perspectives in life, while most Asian women (63 per cent) seek to financially support their household.

Women who are 25 or below are also strongly motivated to put their education to good use, while those in the 36-45 age bracket want to secure their children's future.

When looking for a job, Mena women take the following into consideration, in order of importance: salary (59 per cent), opportunities for long-term career growth (31 per cent) and health insurance for their whole family (28 per cent). Retirement benefits are important to working women aged 46 and above.

"Women across the Mena region are breaking stereotypes and embracing their careers more wholeheartedly than ever before. There is a desire for equality and it seems that, for the most part, this desire is being met by employers," said Lama Ataya, Bayt.com.

"The results of this survey fall in line with Bayt.com's experience with the Mena workplace, and with our analysis of employee and employer habits and aspirations to present a clear picture of the regional employment market."

Seven out of ten women (69 per cent) are comfortable with working in mixed gender environments, which 74 per cent of all survey respondents work in. In Saudi Arabia, 37 per cent of women work in mixed workplaces; however, they are separated from men.

The survey showed that there are more female managers/bosses in Lebanon (28 per cent), Tunisia (24 per cent) and UAE (20 per cent) in comparison to other countries, though only 19 per cent of respondents across the region claim to report to a woman. In general, while the majority (68 per cent) have no preference for the gender of their superior, women (especially in Jordan, KSA and Egypt) prefer to work for a male boss (as per 28 per cent of the region's respondents) as opposed to a female one (4 per cent).

Maternity leave for most women is between one to three months (22 per cent claim one to two months, 28 per cent claim two to three months), though nearly a quarter (23 per cent) do not know what their company's allotted time is. Only 13 per cent of women are highly satisfied with their maternity leave and benefits, with 41 per cent claiming low satisfaction.

"It is encouraging to find that so many women are comfortable working in mixed gender environments, which is perhaps a nod to a more Westernised influence over regional society," said SundipChahal, CEO YouGov. "The low satisfaction with maternity leave suggests that there is room for this benefit to be expanded upon for employers looking to increase their appeal to existing female employees and job seekers."

In terms of benefits, the most commonly received is personal health insurance (51 per cent), followed by paid maternity leave (38 per cent); company transport or transport allowance (28 per cent); job-related training (28 per cent) and family health insurance (19 per cent).

Almost half of the surveyed women (44 per cent) state that fewer opportunities for job promotions are the biggest challenge they face in their work. Stressful and demanding work environments follow, according to 38 per cent, while a third (33 per cent) state that lack of flexible working timings, limited opportunities to perform and insufficient job training and coaching are equally demanding.

When it comes to working hours, 58 per cent of women claim to put in as many as their male colleagues, while 22 per cent claim to work even more.

Sentiments are equally divided in terms of whether women feel they receive equal or less pay than men working within their company (an evenly-split 41 per cent both ways), with women in Qatar, UAE and KSA feeling that they receive less. Four out of ten (40 per cent) of the region's working women believe that their chances for promotion are dependent more upon their performance than their gender, however, 31 per cent believe that they are at a disadvantage in this respect because they are female.

More than half (56 per cent) of women believe that they are treated equally to their male counterparts in the workplace, and 65 per cent state that there are no special benefits for female employees within their company. In Qatar, KSA and UAE however, women feel that men are given preferential treatment.

Of the women who completed the survey, almost a third (30 per cent) claim that their career choices have had a positive impact on their marital life. Six out of ten (57 per cent) women state that their decision to have children has affected their career, especially for those respondents who are 35 years old or younger.

Data for the Bayt.com "Women in the Middle East Workplace" , June 2012, survey was collected online from May 17 to 30, 2012, with 2,185 respondents from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Image from shutterstock

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