Women’s struggle with managerial position glass ceiling continues

Women struggle
(Photo: Jordan News)
Jordanian social media has taken hold of a statistic from a 2021 International Labor Organization (ILO) report contending there is a 60 percent chance that your manager is a woman. Circulating posts have praised this finding, but the context in“Only 2.7 percent of women work in non-education sectors as junior and senior managers.” which it was presented was missing, almost exclusively, from any posts. اضافة اعلان

While many successful women challenge the stereotypical image Arab society assigns to them, there remains a striking gender gap in managerial positions in the Jordanian workforce. 

The 60 percent statistic mostly reflects respondents from Jordan’s education sector, especially schools and kindergartens.

Omitting female school and kindergarten principles, “only 2.7 percent of women work in non-education sectors as junior and senior managers,” said Frida Khan, ILO’s senior gender equality specialist and coordinator of the Jordan Decent Work Country Program.
Companies’ mindsets about working mothers places women as a secondary option for promotion.
Economically, women in Jordan have a notably low rate of participation. According to the ILO, the Kingdom’s female labor force participation rate is below 15 percent, while men represent about 60 percent. This contrasts with Jordan’s impressive educational outcomes, seeing as the Kingdom has the highest female literacy rate in the Middle East and North Africa, at nearly 98 percent.

Despite the record high education rates amongst women, many still perceive them as less competent. Such gender imbalances in labor and leadership roles impact both women and society as women lack access to the types of careers they can excel in, and society is left with a lack of important expertise.

Women in leadership roles interviewed by Jordan News agreed that this gap could be explained due to people’s negative perceptions of people in these roles. The ILO noted, in a report, that women have a harder time finding employment than men. This problem is most prevalent in North Africa and Arab states, as women’s unemployment rates exceed 20 percent.

This gender-based discrimination also plays a role in women receiving fewer job offers and lower starting salaries than men.

An undated photo of Rana Dababneh. (Photo: Handout from Rana Dababneh) 

Deputy chief of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility and corporate communication officer at Orange, Rana Dababneh, said: “I think a woman should work hard to improve her skills and knowledge and have a clear career goal of moving up in management.”

Dababneh, a mother of two, has been a widow for 14 years but is proud that she has been able to balance her career progression while also raising her kids.

“I believe that nothing prevents women from reaching management positions. If they’re independent spirits, then nothing is impossible,” she stressed.

“Women should distinguish themselves by their achievements, not by their gender,” Dababneh advised, highlighting the importance of ensuring excellence while maintaining a competitive edge.

“Big corporations targeting issues of gender imbalance can empower women in the labor market,” added Dababneh, assuring that — based on tangible results and performances —women in management secure more diverse perspectives and maximize efficiency and productivity.

An undated photo of Dana Faddah. (Photo: Handout from Dana Faddah) 

Dana Faddah, project delivery manager at Arab Bank, captain of Jordan’s national basketball team, and “a mother of two amazing smart fighters,” stated that “companies’ mindsets about working mothers places women as a secondary option for promotion.”

“Most executive and managerial positions are held by men who tend to promote other men similar to themselves,” she added.

Big corporations, in particular, are a challenging environment for women, she said, adding that “women are always treated differently than their male peers.”

Faddah also touched on the fact that societal pressure and expectations are another barrier working women have to deal with, as many working women must deal with their families and spouses as well.
Only 2.7 percent of women work in non-education sectors as junior and senior managers.
“I have decided to adjust my mindset and leave my comfort zone. This choice has guided me through my work, athletic career, and in raising my two daughters.” She encouraged other women to trust their own voices and have confidence in their ability to handle the challenges and consequences of their decisions, despite not being appreciated or noticed.

Change will come with time, she assured. “Believe in yourself and be what you are built to be.”

The changes required to aid women in reaching managerial positions were highlighted by Reem Aslan, manager of the Decent Work for Women program at the ILO. She stated that having a safe work environment free from violence and harassment is essential, and nurturing a comfortable setting for employees with familial responsibilities by providing flexible work arrangements and access to childcare facilities is necessary.

Applying gender quotas in Jordan could also make a difference in the representation of women in managerial positions, she continued, as well as ensures fair remuneration with sufficient social protection measures that encourage women to remain in jobs.

The “Women in Leadership” program conducted by the ILO aims to advocate and raise awareness of the significance of gender diversity at the legislative level, said Aslan.

The program encourages the private sector to adopt gender equality and diversity policies. It is currently pushing for amendments to legislation, including creating structured corporate governance instructions for listed shareholding companies and introducing a quota system ensuring that a board of directors comprises at least 30 percent of both genders, said Aslan.

Read more Features
Jordan News