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Middle East Gender Discrimination In Recruitment Process

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2859 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Gender as a social conception is profoundly embedded in the social entities and performs a meaningful role in the working organizations. The organizational norms and values are reflected through the manner, a company deals with the notion of gender role and identity (Martin, 2003, p343). The management of gender diversity at workplace appears to be one of the most challenging issues for the companies all over the world because the gender diversity measures in most of the countries are hampered by some hypercritical issues like male dominating organizational practice, gender wages gap, glass ceiling effects and gender-neutral organization (Olsson, 2002, p142). It is widely observed that people are being discriminated on sexual basis throughout their employment tenure at every level and process of working organizations (Giele et al, 2003, p98) including the selection and recruitment process, promotions, salaries specifications, allocation of responsibilities and working hours etc.

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The research paper aims to analyze the theoretical perspective of gender diversity management and explores the issues of gender discrimination at workplace during the process of recruitment and employment. Furthermore, the paper discusses the gender discrimination in the organizations of Middle East and exemplifies different ME countries to evident the prevailing trend of gender discrimination in the region. The essay discusses some well established and widely accepted theories and concepts explaining the dynamics of gender diversity management. Taking the Middle East region as an example; the research paper basically strives to illustrate the practicability and implication of the discussed theories and concepts in to the real workplace setting.

Managing Gender Diversity at Workplace – The Theoretical Perspective

The management of gender diversity at workplace is an important and controversial issue that is often debated in the legal, social, economic and most importantly theoretical context. The issue especially remains an important point of discussion for the feminist advocates. The theorists have examined the notion of gender role and ideologies entrenched in the workplace setting from different perspectives. There are some important theories and phenomenon divulged by the experts to explain the implication of gender theories, concepts and feminist approaches to the working organization. The experts suggest formulating and adopting models and theories for the management of gender diversity within organizations to reduce the discrimination of workers on sexual basis. Furthermore, the theorists also believe that the organizational structure and environment vital role in promoting gender diversity.

Ressner (1986, p130) reckons the organizational structure capable of eliminating the gender segregation because the patriarch structure of organization allows the entry of gender role whereas the bureaucratic nature with distinct dynamics promotes the gender neutral ideology. Ferguson (1984) however disagrees with this assumption and regards bureaucracy liable for the gender discrimination. Ferguson reveals that bureaucracy organizes the oppressive male powers through certain rules and procedures and hinders the women progression towards higher positions (p143). Riger et al (1997) also believe in the role of organizational climate in creating gender discrimination and reveal that the hostile organizational environment prevents the participation and career growth of women. The organizational structure thus has the major role to play in the adequate management of gender diversity at workplace. With some conflicting views, the theorists commonly affirm the role of organizational setting in creating gender biased environment.

Moss Kanter (1977) identifies the evolution of certain masculinity theories as the central problem behind the gender discrimination. Kanter believes that the masculine principles use to dominate the authority structures of the sex-neutral organizations as these theories view male possessing superior educational, planning and management skills and abilities with tough minded approach towards decision making and problem solving. This philosophy keeps the males at top working positions having the authority and control over major organizational matters (Kanter, 1977, p43). Kanter argument regards the structural placement of women responsible for leaving them with the dead end jobs, however, she didn’t adequately explains the problems of male workers in female dominating professions or workplace setting. Despite this gap, Kanter theory provide an insight to the organizational matters from gendered perspective and also insists the need of managing gender diversity through better organizational practice and structure.

Acker (1990) provide a detailed insight over the issue of organizational structure and gender discrimination. He believes that gender identities are the most critical aspect of organizations that are often disregarded by the management. The negligence of this social phenomenon results in the creations of gender neutral organizations where most of the leading roles are being performed by the males. The situation leads towards gender discrimination where the women are provided with lesser opportunities to foster their professional career. Acker (1990) insists the need of systematic theories of gender and organizations because the organizational processes like the workers interaction, salary differentials, work timings and distribution construct and reinforce the gender identity and role. The gender neutral organizations generate the dilemmas of gender segregation and income and status inequity. Acker explicitly explains that the gender diversity should be strategically managed through systematic theories of gender roles to prevent gender biasness and discrimination of the workforce. Acker gendered organization theory further identifies the overrepresentation of male workers in the labour market that allow them performing leading and dominating role (Acker, 1990, p44)

The gender discrimination has also its roots inside the traditional conceptions regarding the roles and responsibilities of the women in connection with their families. The organizations seek the services of ideal working having little extensive family responsibilities so that they can dedicate more time and concentration towards their duties (Rapoport et al, 1996, p59). Women, however, remain engage with the domestic responsibilities and the child birth and child care prevents them to regularly focus upon the professional career (Riger et al, 1997, p63). This engagement portrays their image as workers looking towards flexible working conditions where they can’t act as always available and fully committed workers (Martin, 2003, p343; Olsson, 2002, p142). These theories elucidate that the family affiliations also act as an important role in creating gender discrimination at workplace.

The social interaction between men and women also establishes the pattern of dominance and submission because in turn this interaction enforces the femininity and masculinity norms held by an organization. The image of the business leader is created as powerful and successful masculinity that is applicable to a male manager only (Olsson, 2002, p142). The social conception about the business leader also works to create gender biasness that prevails at each process of business ranging from selection and hiring to deciding the pay scale and working hours. Women also encounter discrimination in form of sexual and non sexual harassment, bullying and unfair treatment in the promotion process (Riger et al, 1997, p63)

The concept of glass ceiling also explains an important aspect of gender discrimination. The glass ceiling in the situation when a qualified and deserving employees is stopped at some low level of the organizations and is not allow to reach the high positions because of any racial or gender discrimination (Gary et al, 2008, p19). The glass ceiling is often identified as barrier to women progression in many countries and numerous research studies have found evidence about the negative impact of glass ceiling upon the professional careers of women (Alice and Lind 2007, p56; Biber et al, 2005, 154; Giele et al, 2003, p98). The glass ceiling coerces the women working at lower position despite having the abilities and skills to work at higher position. Furthermore, the statistically proved widening gender wages gap in many countries also indicates the discrimination and inequity prevailing within labour markets (Budig, 2002, p204).

Gender Discrimination at Workplace – The case of Middle East

The traditional Muslim society of Middle East region is highly influenced by the religious guidelines that play vital role in determining the people behaviours in every aspect of life ranging from politics, education and governance to businesses and foreign relation management (Ibid et al, 2000, p237). This affiliation makes the ME region different from other countries and the business patterns of this region also tend to be different in terms of women role and participation in different business activities. The study of women and gender role always remain an interesting point for the scholars and experts and a considerable part of literature has been devoted to trace the changes occurred the perception about women and their role in the business world. It is revealed from most of the studies that the women progression in Middle East is intensely hindered by the social and religious concerns that don’t allow the women progression towards higher levels. However, experts have also witnessed a wave of change surrounding the region that exhibits increasing participation of women in the professional life.

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The society of Middle East region is mostly provided with exclusivist and conservative interpretations of the laws. As a result, the women are supposed to be strictly bound with the ties of familial and social values. The situation asserts the implication of certain theories that charge the family and social pressure acting as reason behind gender discrimination at work place (e.g. Martin, 2003, p343; Olsson, 2002, p142; Rapoport et al, 1996, p59) Men in the Arab world find it very difficult to be led by women and this mentality is also brought to the work place where most organizations are led by men. As a result the women commonly face gender discriminations at professional levels that affect their progression towards the higher level of the organizations. It is imperative to notice that the women are not allowed to become the head of state in any of the ME country that is one of the most important proof to exemplify the gender inequity prevailing at higher level. It clearly indicates that social norms and values don’t allow gender equity and see no room for the women at workplace (Ibid et al, 2000, p237).

The organizational practices of most of the business organizations of Middle East countries tend to be strict and discouraging for the women. The women after getting employed in the ME business fail to abide the pressure of tough business circumstances because the organizational structures of ME businesses do not support the gender equity and generate discrimination of employee on sexual basis. Furthermore, the social interaction between male and female also used to be different in the ME society as compared with other countries. The little and restricted interaction between male and females in most of the Middle East countries also act as barrier in the professional growth of the women because when they cannot meet with people comfortably, they become unable to conduct certain business operations. (Marmenout et al, 2009, p2)

Experts widely affirm high level of gender inequality in the business world of Middle East region due to the fact that the Arab women are traditionally not supposed to play a role in professional life. However, it is also a fact admitted by the social scientists and gender studies experts that the status and business role of women widely varies in different countries of Middle East region and there is gradual change occurring in the situation along with the passage of time. Some of the ME countries are very open towards the change due to which their perceptions about women’s professional career is also changing (Marmenout et al, 2009, p2).

For example, the most progressive country of the ME region UAE is significantly changing in terms of women participation in the business activities and women are getting many opportunities to foster their career growth in different fields of business. This trend has an obvious impact upon the gender discrimination and many of the employers use to show their intentions to provide equal employment opportunities regardless of sex. There is no legal prohibition for the women professional role in UAE, however, the social and familial structures of many of the Arab families still discourage the women participation at workplace due to which they become unable walk along with men in the business world (Marmenout et al, 2009, p2). Thus, the structural replacement of women as identified by Kanter (1977, p43) plays vital role in creating gender discrimination in UAE organizations.

Some experts believe that Saudi Arabia has not shown significant signs of changes with respect to women role in the business world. However, a growing body of evidences deny this misconception and identify the increasing role of women in the business world of Saudi Arabia also. The women of the country now have more opportunities for starting their own business and at the same time there is great encouragement for the women to get employed in public dealing sector by the private and public companies. As a result, the women employment rate in ME has increased over the past two decades but the dark side of the picture shows that these women are mostly employed in agriculture and service sector that are supposed to be less important sectors of the economy (Marmenout et al, 2009, p2). The strong sectors of Saudi business are still strongly dominated by men because only they are supposed to be capable of handling these matters. Hence, the masculine principles here dominate the authority structures and keep the women away from the important business sectors and higher positions. The situation is more or less same in other countries of Middle East also and in Kuwait, Egypt, Oman and Lebanon the participation of women is increasing in the business world but still limited to certain sectors and positions. There is wide gap in the men and women employee ratios and wages in most of the ME countries that signifies the high level of gender discrimination prevailing in the region (Ibid et al, 2000, p237).


The research paper basically intends to exemplify the implication of theories and concepts related with the issue of gender discrimination at workplace in to the real business world. In this regard, the paper presented a concise review of some well established theories and philosophies to provide an understanding the role of different factors in creating gender discrimination at workplace. It is revealed that the organizational structures, masculine philosophies, patterns of social interaction, social norms and family ties play vital in determining the level of gender discrimination at workplace. The management of gender diversity requires the management of these issues to assure the equity within the process of recruitment and employment.

The review of the literature presented the conceptual framework to find the implications of the described concepts and philosophies in to the real working environment and thus the essay traces the practicability of the theories of gender role in the working organizations of Middle East. The paper reveals that a high level of gender discrimination exists in the working organizations of Middle East due to the traditional social and familial norms held by the people of the region. The study of ME organizational practice affirms the applicability of the studied concepts and theories of gender discrimination. It is found that gender inequity at ME workplace is backed by the factors of discouraging and unwelcoming organizational structure, limited social interaction, family values insisting upon child birth and care and the dominating role of male at important industries and higher positions as they are supposed to be competent for such positions. These are the factors identified by the theorists (e.g. Acker, 1990, p44; Kanter, 1977, p43; Ferguson, 1984, p143) as responsible for generating gender discrimination. Thus, the entire discussion could be sum up with the conclusion that Middle East workplace witnesses high level of gender discrimination that needs to be managed through systematic theories of gender role as explained by the gender studies experts and theorists.


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