Workforce inequality issues. Index terms:( Women, Gender

Workforce in United Arab Emirates is witnessing more and more female
employees joining every year. However, the knowledge is minimal about gender
inequality and challenges that women are facing during their career development.
From this perspective, a study will be carried on in this paper to understand gender
inequality and stereotyping in UAE workplace and to discuss the challenges faced
by women to be promoted and progressed in their career plan. The theoretical
framework will be based on related social theories that will support the test
of propositions. This empirical research proposal will highlight the previous
effort in literature and will intend to study this phenomenon using qualitative
methodology instruments supported by pilot study design. The narrative approach
will facilitate the thematic analysis of the collected data and the predicted results
will help the decision makers to accommodate gender inequality issues.

Index terms:( Women, Gender inequality, Career development,
leadership, stereotyping, Glass ceiling theory, Social role theory, UAE: United
Arab Emirates)

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1.    Introduction

1.1  Overview

For decades, gender equality was a target to achieve in many organizations
and countries. LeMoyne (2011) from UNICEF says that Gender equality “means
that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources,
opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women
and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.” Many legislation
was created by countries to affirm action of equality between women and men in
workplace. The current studies emphasize that women are still are facing gender
stereotyping that affect their career development. As this phenomenon is still
ongoing, scholars must invest more time working on this important topic that
can change organizations performance and economy growth as whole.

The culture of Middle East region has the inherited idea of women
being housewives and raising children while the man should be in power and he
is considered as the only financial support of the family. This idea is no
longer practical as emerging economy need more working resources and women are
becoming an important pillar for different fields and industries. In UAE, the
government has encouraged women to study and work with reservation of their
workplace. In any professional workplace, the women are working similarly to
men and they are showing higher performance than men in many cases; however, in
UAE the men represent most of the senior management levels in workplace. That still
indicates that regardless how hard the women worked or how much educated she
is, the gender barriers will affect her career development and limit her
chances for promotions. It’s important to indicate that this paper will not
look to the connection or wasta issues or to the physical differences that
limit woman from practicing some jobs.

            In this paper, there
will be an attempt to discuss the literature related to gender differences and
whether a significant proof can be presented that women are not eligible to
reach top managerial levels. Then, gender inequality and stereotyping
literature will be assessed and discussed from different perspectives. Other
gender related barriers will be mentioned as well to cover all the possible
impacts on women career development. The theoretical framework will highlight
the glass ceiling theory and social-role theory to understand the reasons behind
gender inequality in UAE workplace. The literature review will drive the propositions
to answer the research questions. Using qualitative research methodology;
mainly case study; three organizations from three different sectors in UAE will
be selected for data sample and collection. There will be a selection of 40
women in different career levels for conducting semi-structured interviews and two
focus groups sessions. As the data will be huge a pilot study will be testing
the validity and reliability of method and sample before initializing the actual
session. The data will be collected and analyzed using narrative thematic
approach. The phenomenological qualitative method will be followed to
understand the situation from the eyes of women who are experiencing it in the workplace.
Results are predicted to answer main research questions and propose implications
for decision maker to change policy in favor of gender equality.

1.2  Problem Statement

Women participation in UAE workforce reached to 41% in 2017
compared to 29% in 1990 (worldbank database 2017). Nevertheless, females are
underrepresented in the managerial positions in most of the organizations. While
there are many studies in gender inequality and women career development, there
is no much well established research dedicated to study the impact of gender inequality
and cultural barriers on the career development of women in UAE and GCC region.
Lack of empirical researches can be due to the understanding that this problem
is less likely to exist in the new century. Although the culture of gender
inequality is contradicting with government laws and regulation and with
Islamic religion values, workplaces are still having this issue of stereotyping
women capabilities which hinder them from reaching senior levels. Overall, the
problem is the lack of advancement of women in management positions within UAE workplaces
due to gender related barriers.