Of women:‘Be beautiful and don’t work,’ say Arab men
Most men believe that what takes men a week to do, women can do within two days using their femininity and beauty as tools. Women, on the contrary, attribute their success to simple talent rather than anything else.
The famous French proverb "sois belle et tais-toi" (be beautiful, but shut up) is widely quoted in Arab societies with a slight difference in words - "be beautiful and don't work."
This comment is something that makes many workingwomen angry. Some women complain that their success is almost always attributed to the way they look rather than the work they actually do.
Sahar Ghazzawi, a Saudi marketing employee at a tourist office, said women are more successful than men because of their skills, not their beauty.
"It is scientifically proven that women are better communicators than men and this is largely because their brains are more networked to process and convey messages," she said.
"As I work in a tourist office, I meet a large number of clients. I work hard to persuade them that our services are the best. In contrast, I have noticed that my male colleagues just list the services to their clients without any attempt to sell them the idea," she added.
According to Ghazzawi, the issue is not a matter of beauty or femininity, but a matter of skill.
"Bosses do not pay any attention to whether we try persuading clients. They only look at the end result. During our periodical meetings, our male colleagues accuse us of using our beauty to sell. Our bosses, however, generally ignore these comments," said Ghazzawi.
Nuwair Al-Saghir, a Saudi furniture designer, said her success in her field is because of her skills and taste. "Most women are far quicker and better at mind-reading and communicating than most men. Moreover, women are more empathetic than men. This makes women designers more likeable and successful. I think we as designers can understand a family's needs while male designers cannot," she said.
"Me and a number of colleagues (male and female) are designing furniture for a famous Saudi company. The management mostly prefers female designers, which are in more demand. This actually angers our male designers," said Al-Saghir.
"When we discuss the working plan for both male and female designers, our male colleagues make us feel frustrated by saying that the management only likes our designs because we are women and that the management wants to satisfy us," she added.
Sarah Khalil, a Jordanian employee of a PR company, complained about the war that her male colleagues launched against her because of her success.
"I've succeeded in getting the contact numbers of company managers, hotels and hospitals in Saudi Arabia. These companies always nominate our company to organize events. My bosses like me because I always bring excellent results, better than my male colleagues," said Khalil.
"All my colleagues, especially the men, say that I am no more skillful than them. They always spread rumors about me and say that I am only successful because I am beautiful. Although I possess many skills, I believe I am blessed with good luck," she said.
By DIANA AL-JASSEM