Up to 43 per cent of working women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region believe they are paid less than their male counterparts, according to a new survey conducted by jobsite Bayt.com.
The online survey, which spoke to over 1500 women in 13 regional countries, found that 39 per cent of women receive the same pay as their male peers, while only three per cent state they earn more than men in a similar role. The rest – 15 per cent – did not comment.
Overall, women also believe they are treated less favourably when it comes to benefits (27 per cent for less favourably, 49 per cent for equal treatment) and career progression opportunities (33 per cent feel women are discriminated against; 42 per cent state opportunities are equal), Bayt said.
While up to 49 per cent of the respondents said gender has no role to play when it comes to receiving a promotion, 34 per cent – particularly from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Syria – claimed that their company favours promoting men over women.
The majority (77 per cent) currently work for a male manager, although 66 per cent of the respondents said they have no preference of working for a man or woman.
The survey also found that 72 per cent of women across the MENA region work in mixed-gender environments, compared to 15 per cent who work in offices where men and women are segregated, and 13 per cent who have only female employees. Over half of the respondents claimed there are more men than women in their workplace.
While seven in 10 women are comfortable with working in a mixed environment – four in 10 claim to be ‘extremely’ comfortable.
Sixty-four per cent of women working in mixed-gender environments said they receive no special benefits, and 51 per cent stated that men and women employees are treated equally.
However, a quarter believe that men are given preferential treatment, while 59 per cent stated that some employees – regardless of their gender – are given preferential treatment in the workplace.
Workplace equality is considered by 67 per cent of the respondents to have reached the same levels as Western countries, especially in Tunisia, the report found.
Most women also felt that job opportunities were fair, with 56 per claiming experience and qualifications are more important than gender.
Not surprisingly though, more than a fifth of respondents in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Jordan, said it is easier for men to get a job.
Suha Mardelli, HR director, Bayt.com, said: “The level of empowerment women enjoy today is no doubt a driving factor for the way in which their working environments are continually evolving, levelling out the playing field for all employees.
“In the West, women are perceived to be on par with men in the workplace and exist in boardrooms in partnership with their male counterparts. We are moving in that direction very quickly as it appears that this sentiment is a driving factor for workplaces to continue to shift away from traditional norms and into more gender-equal environments.”
Countries such as the UAE have been particularly focussed on growing the presence of women in the workplace. Currently, about 70 per cent of college graduates are women, while 60 per cent of the government workforce is female – with a third of them in senior positions.
During the Government Summit last month, UAE VP and PM and Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum also announced the establishment of the Gender Balance Council to ensure women are given leading roles in the development of the country.
“It is very important to get women involved in the development of a nation through initiatives like this, women bring a new perspective to the table, which up until recently was male-dominated,” he said.