Monday, April 20, 2015

Challenges in expanding the talent pool of women


Social customs and traditional gender roles in many countries and certain regions, such as the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, greatly influence the role women are able to play in labour markets and in decision-making generally. However, as a means to enhance economic growth, there is increasing governmental and societal support for the education and economic engagement of women as long as social and religious norms, particularly in relation to family responsibilities, are respected. The route for women to gain access to management positions is thus being opened up with efforts to counter the low labour participation rates of women and to create a larger pool of qualified women. 
Some multinational companies are spearheading the hiring of women and promoting more women in their management structures in such countries. In a bid to nationalize their labour markets, the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia are providing incentives to speed up women’s entry into the labour market, including as managers and business owners. While these initiatives are implemented within the framework of the social requirements concerning physical segregation of men and women at workplaces, they nevertheless provide new opportunities for women to earn income and to apply their knowledge and education at technical and managerial levels. 

In many parts of the globe, the main role of women is still perceived as carers for families and households. In terms of sheer daily hours of work, this has given rise to the so called “double burden” of being a worker, a career or business woman in addition to attending to family needs. “Flexibility”, “priority setting” and “multitasking” have become part of the vocabulary associated with managing busy schedules that span from early morning to late evening most days of the week.

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