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An exploratory study of the under‐representation of Emirate women in the United Arab Emirates' information technology sector

Ahlam Hassan Al Marzouqi (Human Resources Department, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Nick Forster (College of Business Sciences, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 20 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to describe the principal reasons why Emirate women are under‐represented in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) information technology (IT) sector; and the barriers and challenges that national women have encountered while working in this sector of the national economy.


The paper draws on data from 20 structured in‐depth interviews conducted with Emirate women who had worked for a minimum of five years in IT.


Although national women have made remarkable inroads into almost all professions and occupations in recent years, they are still noticeably under‐represented in IT, particularly in the private sector. In addition, very few are in senior‐level positions and there are, at the time of writing, no Emirate women technology‐entrepreneurs. The results show that cultural and familial factors still inhibit many young Emirate women from choosing careers in this profession, and negative gendered attitudinal assumptions about women are still prevalent within the local IT sector.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size was small, so we were unable to test specific research hypotheses, or compare our results with quantitative cohort surveys conducted in other countries. Nevertheless, the findings warrant additional research, as increasing numbers of Emirate women graduate from local universities with IT/MIS degrees, and further research on this topic is described.

Practical implications

Five practical strategies are identified to encourage more young Emirate women to embrace IT careers in the future.


This is the first research on this issue conducted in the UAE/GCC region.



Hassan Al Marzouqi, A. and Forster, N. (2011), "An exploratory study of the under‐representation of Emirate women in the United Arab Emirates' information technology sector", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 544-562.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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