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Gender managerial obstacles in private organizations: the UAE case

Mohamed Osman Shereif Mahdi Abaker (Department of Management, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates)
Helen Louise Patterson (Department of Management, American University of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates)
Boo Yun Cho (Department of Business Administration, Jeju National University, Jeju-si, Republic of Korea)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 21 November 2022

Issue publication date: 20 April 2023




The purpose of this study is to report empirical research on gender managerial obstacles in UAE private organizations. It identifies the barriers that limit opportunities for gender equality promotion in managerial level positions.


Primary data were gathered from 384 female managers operating in UAE organizations using Survey Monkey and ANOVA for statistical analysis. Two variables (years of experience and industry) were used to compare the average means across the responses and the differences among the group.


The situation of gender equality in UAE management currently shows a positive trend. The females who participated in the survey have considerable work experience and jobs in a vital economic sector of the UAE industry. The earlier cultural stereotypes that worked against the interests of women in the UAE society are no longer relevant except for informal barriers and the level of cooperation among female leaders. We found differences among industry, service and transportation sectors in which gender managerial level in a private industry is dependent upon the number of years of experience for female managers.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation of the study is the online survey was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic during the lockdown period in the spring of 2020, which led to a low number of participants responding to the questionnaire. Additionally, the survey did not include a nationality question to distinguish Emiratis from non-Emirati.

Social implications

This study indicates a need to coordinate UAE female leaders' actions to protect their rights, develop formal and informal mechanisms of gender inequality realization in business and promote professional skills, orientation on social networks, and mentoring programs for female leaders. These initiatives improve the positions of female leaders.


The study of the UAE case adds to the existing literature on gender studies because the survey-based research in the UAE context contributes to the limited knowledge of Middle Eastern countries. The females’ employment and their representation in managerial levels remain lower compared to males. Differences exist among the industry, service and transportation sectors.



Mahdi Abaker, M.O.S., Patterson, H.L. and Cho, B.Y. (2023), "Gender managerial obstacles in private organizations: the UAE case", Gender in Management, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 454-470.



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