By Reem Khedr
CAIRO: Thirty-one percent of women in the MENA region feel they receive less pay than their male colleagues despite working the same amount of hours, a recent poll showed.
More than half (52 percent) of married working women revealed they earn less than their spouse, with just one in five (19 percent) saying they earn more. The comprehensive survey also showed that besides earning less pay than men, about a third (31 percent) of working women think they have less chance of being promoted than their male counterparts.
The research, exploring the perceptions and attitudes of working women on their role and experience at their work environment, was recently carried out by the Middle East’s job site, Bayt.com, and research specialists, YouGov.
However, 25 percent of working women stated that they prefer a male boss over a female one, with 76 percent saying they currently report to a male boss.
Even though there are perceptions of lower pay, two thirds (68 percent) of women feel they are treated equally to men at work and less than one in seven (15 percent) think they are treated unfairly compared to their male counterparts; while nearly three in five (57 percent) feel that the system of appreciating, recognizing or rewarding employees is based on performance alone and not gender.
Almost 23 percent (three in five) feel that prospects for women have substantially improved in their country of residence, but one in five (19 percent) do not think there have been sufficient improvements.
“These understandings help to offer suggestions that can eventually encourage change towards greater workplace equality,” commented Sundip Chahal, chief executive officer of YouGov.
Twenty-four percent reported family ties and priorities to be the main barriers facing women in the region with 14 percent pointing to traditional society stereotypes and taboos. This is supported by the fact that 17 percent of single working women think their future marriage plans will affect their career choices to a large extent. Interestingly, having children is seen as less disruptive than marriage with only 27 percent of working women with children saying their children have negatively impacted their career.
The top reasons given by women for wanting to work are to become financially independent (52 percent) and to be able to support themselves or their household financially (48 percent). A higher salary would be enough to influence 69 percent of women to change their job. However, women are clearly working for more than just money with almost two thirds (63 percent) saying they would continue to work even after achieving all their financial goals, and only 15 percent saying they wouldn’t.