Women earn less for equal hours, reveals new research by Bayt.com and YouGovSiraj
While the number of hours worked by women generally matches and often exceeds those of their male colleagues, the compensation they receive is much lower. 4 in 10 women across the region feel they receive less pay than their male counterparts and have a slimmer chance of promotion. These are among the findings of a series of polls conducted by the Middle East’s number one job site, Bayt.com, in conjunction with research specialists YouGovSiraj.
The Women in the Middle East Workplace survey is a measure of women’s perceptions, attitudes, experiences and satisfaction with various elements of their role in the workplace, particularly regarding their treatment relative to that received by their male counterparts.
With 51% feeling that appreciation in the workplace is based on merit (and a comparatively small 15% claiming men receive more recognition), it seems most women in the region feel reasonably content about their career worth. However, the picture becomes more complicated when looking at remuneration. 90% of women claim to work equal or longer hours to their male colleagues, but, 42% feel they receive less pay (54% for Western women and 53% for GCC), 43% feel they have a lesser chance of promotion (57% among GCC women) and a further 20% feel women in their company are not able to progress beyond a certain level in their organizational structure.
“Women make up a large proportion of the region’s workforce and are fundamental players in helping to build and shape the region’s economies. However, these poll results show that women throughout the region are still subject to a certain degree of discrimination in the workplace, particularly when it comes to compensation and opportunities for promotion”, explains Rabea Ataya, Chief Executive Officer, Bayt.com.
For many women, these frustrations are compounded by the need to balance career commitments and family life. Maternity leave is one notable area of discontent. Most women in the region are entitled to between one and three months leave and more than half cite neutral to low satisfaction with their company’s provision of leave and benefits. Dissatisfaction is most rife among GCC and Western women, with 35% and 40% citing low satisfaction. However, while over half of women (58%) feel employers should provide them with special benefits, only 22% have asked their companies for flexible timings or to work from home. Of those, 39% received a negative response.
“Gauging the opinions of these women provides a valuable look at what provisions and services employers are currently making available for their female employees, and point to what employers could be doing to further improve the workplace for women – especially those that balance their work with a family”, explains Sundip Chahal, Chief Operating Officer, YouGov Siraj.
While the study shows a significant level of dissatisfaction among women in the workplace, a positive outlook is still held by many. 44% of women across the region feel that gender has not affected their career and as much as a third (32%) of GCC women feel it has it in fact had a positive impact. A further 75% region-wide say there are women occupying senior positions in their company, with Kuwait topping the list at 83%.
Other findings from the study show that top motivators for women to switch jobs are a higher salary (77%), better career advancement opportunities (55%) and gaining senior positions (30%). Among the benefits provided by employers to women, top are paid maternity leave (44%), family health insurance (35%), which in many countries is mandatory by law; and training (30%). This figure (training) is especially high among GCC nationals at 50% and lowest for Asians at 26%.
“This data can be of huge benefit to all HR practitioners and regional and international recruitment websites as it provides quick and valuable insights into how jobseekers are feeling about the hugely important, pertinent topic of women in the workforce - in each of the various parts of the Middle East. This data will help HR practitioners to understand and question the role that issues of gender equality and competence should have in the modern business environment, which can in turn promote dialogue and even culture-change, in terms of improving or updating current regulations and practices that relate to both women and men at work,” concluded Ataya.