Fariha Othmani, HR associate living in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Impact

The work place has become a more equal playing field

I have lived in Dubai for over 18 years I don’t think this would apply to the UAE. From what I have seen around me I know that there are a lot of women who are in high-paying jobs nowadays. If I just look at my immediate circle of family and friends, I see women doing quite well.

The UAE is a lot more multicultural, the kind of environment many of us grow up in is quite difference compared to people in the US, I guess.

But when you look at the amount of work that has been done in the US for women’s rights, I wouldn’t say that the study proves anything against the Feminist movement.

Because people are speaking out against issues like wage gap and discrimincation, I have come to know a lot more about these issues. Just like me, men would also be more aware of these issues and be more mindful in how they treat women.

Here, I don’t think the pay gap is much of an issue. But I would be furious if I was paid less than a man doing the same job.

I work in human resources and have seen HR professionals and managers have noted these issues and keep them in mind when making decisions related to hiring and promotions.

It is fascintating to look at the evolution of women in the workforce. A lot more women are comfortable going into the work place and it is because of the women and men who have raised their voice and created awareness about this issue. Kudos to them.

From Ms Fariha Othmani

HR associate living in Dubai

 

Change

Technology and financial independence have been a game changer

It is quite obvious that there have been changes – some are good, some are bad. I don’t see the negative alone. Today’s generation is a lot more confident and hands-on. They are not dependant like my mothers’ generation. The only negative I see is the lack of a support system, because many of us live in nuclear families. Despite being independent, we are more prone to anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders. That, I feel, is the biggest drawback for this generation.

As for working women, their situation has improved financially. Earlier, there was so much financial dependence that women were sunbjected to domestic abuse. The financial independence has given women the confidence to handle their own problems. They are able to take bold decisions in life and they have the money to support themselves and their children. Also, technology has helped significantly - we have gadgets and appliances for everyday work; maid services and nannnies are easily available. This can really make a difference in the absense of a support system.

The change is actually really good I am very happy that women are working and earning and getting all the support they need.

From Dr Arpitha Reddy

Founder of a website for mums in the UAE

Perspective

The study is limited to the American population

This is a compelling report suggesting women’s progress has stalled across generations in the US in areas of social, economic and physical well-being. The suicide rate for women in the millennial generation (born 1982-2002) has increased to 6.3 per 100,000 from 4.4 per 100,000 in generation X (born between 1965 and 1981). As a mental health expert, I find this statistic alarming as it suggests women in the US are not finding the support needed to improve their emotional well-being.
Overall, women’s educational attainment has increased. However, the report suggests this has not translated into corresponding gains in the workforce, specifically in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) occupations and business ownership. This is worrying and I look to the socio-psychological impact on millennial women as the data implies the glass ceiling still exists for many. 
However, the report is limited to the US population; I do not feel this reflects women’s status globally. There are cultural differences in gender-role beliefs worldwide. I have found the UAE to be very progressive in terms of gender equality, with women holding leading positions in the public and private sector as well as in government. My psychology courses are full of articulate, confident and capable female students who are finding opportunities to excel in various fields. I certainly feel it is also the role of educators not to steer and reduce choices of education, occupation and life concepts. Instead, we should facilitate the development of all young minds and create an environment full of opportunity. 
Dr Jigar Jogia  
Associate professor of psychology at the American University in Dubai

 

Misogyny

Today’s generation does not have the right role models

I feel that mentally, the previous generation was much better off compared to the new generation. I feel very strogly against young people looking up to the likes of Kim Kardashian and other social media influencers as role models. It is such a shame because now society tells us who our role models are based on success, money and fame.

I really don’t think we are championing women of substance anymore. For example, there are women like Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first and only woman to win the Fields medal in mathematics, which is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel prize. She died recently at the age of 40, suffering from cancer.

What if we actually champion such women of substance? Then there is room for improvement. Right now, we are more concerned about the fact that it might be Beyoncé’s birthday. Who cares? There are so many more important issues in life!

Even when it comes to performers, how often do you come across someone like Adele, who is overweight but has a fantastic voice and is celebrated for her skills rather than her looks?

Social media has played a major role in obscuring this image of who our role model should be.

Even though I worked in the field of social media and used to work with influencers, I cut myself off from it because today, if you go to Instagram, everyone has bought media.

As for the workplace, women still face issues. I worked in Bangkok, in the automobiles industry and had 13 men reporting to me. I was the only woman on the team.

Once, when there was some disagreement, my manager told me that I am too ‘alpha female’. You never hear a man told he is too ‘alpha male’. Also, the wage gap is real: the men who reported to me were paid more than I was. This is where the problem is, no matter how many steps you take, you still face them.

Now, I am self-employed, because it was not easy being the only African-Arab woman in the environment. I am not here to change the world anymore. I cannot change it. Also, because women are easily labelled as either aggressive or too weak, depending on the situation, sometimes the best thing is to say nothing at all. Just do your duty.

From Ms Asma Ali

Digital marketing consultant living in Dubai