The participation and productivity of women in Oman’s labor force are very low and heavily skewed toward the government sector. There are few women in the private sector and the reasons for this are not well-known. The challenges that women workers face specifically in the Arab World are worth understanding from a participation and policy perspective. The purpose of this paper is to explore employers’ perceptions of women workers and the major challenges they face in Oman in the context of government efforts to develop the female workforce in this Middle East region.
Data collected by interviewing the top executives (employers) from 28 organizations in two major cities in Oman were analyzed qualitatively, grouped into emerging themes, triangulated, and discussed.
The results indicated that employers, in general, are impressed by women workers in Oman. However, they identify a number of challenges women face. This study synthesized and grouped employers’ perceptions of these challenges in the following categories: women’s natural and physiological composition, their attitude at work, post-marital challenges, socio-cultural barriers, nature and place of work, organizational preparedness and governance, biases or prejudices of employers, and work-life balance (WLB) issues facing them.
This study suggests that since female participation in the government sector in Oman is substantial, women can also be attracted to work in the private sector if policies are formulated to safeguard their interests.
There is an absolute dearth of studies about female participation in the Omani workforce; this study is one of the pioneering efforts. Whereas the extant literature on WLB issues represents mostly the western perspective, this study highlights the major WLB issues in Oman and fills some important gaps between the West and the Middle East by focusing on women, WLB, and policies triangle.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Open Research Grant No. ORG/EHR/15/002 from the Research Council (TRC) of Oman, which was instrumental in conducting this research work. The authors also acknowledge the SURGE Research Grant No. SURGE/2/RD1/2010-11 of Sohar University which provided the initial base to the TRC grant.
Belwal, R. and Belwal, S. (2017), "Employers’ perception of women workers in Oman and the challenges they face", Employee Relations, Vol. 39 No. 7, pp. 1048-1065. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-09-2016-0183Download as .RIS
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