Working women in the UAE now has the same level of gender equality compared with their counterparts in western countries, a survey by Bayt.com and YouGov has found.
Women in the UAE now face no gender bias when it comes to promotions, the survey claimed. Over 55% of female respondents said job offers are based on experience and qualifications with gender playing no role in the decision.
Close to 40% respondents stated that they have never been asked questions that made them feel discriminated during interviews, it said.
In the UAE, 43% of women said their chance of being promoted depends entirely on job performance, and gender plays no role. In the Middle East, 59% of respondents said appreciation at the workplace is based on performance alone without regard to gender.
The survey results show a positive direction towards gender balance in the region, especially where it comes to opportunities for promotions, according to Suha Mardelli Haroun, regional sales director, Bayt.com.
Of the women who work in mixed-gender environments, nearly 87% are comfortable with it, while more than half 57% said they are extremely comfortable.
Further, 40% of respondents stated that they are not treated less favorably or discriminated against as women in the workplace.
While 65% of women surveyed in the UAE said that all employees work same hours, 43% believe they have the same opportunities for promotions and career growth, and 26% believe they receive the same salaries.
Is it all that good?
However, many participants said there are challenges too.
According to them, the top three challenges that women in the region face in their work environment are less opportunity for job promotions (51%), stressful and demanding work environment (39%), and a lack of sufficient job training (35%).
Data for the survey was collected online from November 6 to 22, with 888 female respondents from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria taking part.
The survey also flies in the face of multiple other reports on the gender gap in the region, including the UAE.
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by The World Economic Forum (WEF), while many policies focused on improving conditions for women have been enacted in the Gulf states, they remain in the bottom half of the table globally when it comes to gender equality.
Overall, Gulf countries stood in the lower part of the high-income table when countries were split based on average income.
UAE Gender Balance Council vice chairwoman Mona Al Marri also recently pointed out that the private sector lagged behind female participation in the country’s public sector, as well as at Cabinet level.
She stressed that it was time for the corporate world in the region to rewrite gender playbooks so that they can tap fresh perspectives and ideas from women.
Women accounted for 66% of UAE’s public-sector workforce and 30% of decision-making roles in Dubai’s public sector. However, women account for fewer than 2% of board members of publicly listed companies in the country, according to Arab Women Organisation, she pointed out.