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Career calling: women STEM graduates in the United Arab Emirates

Linzi J. Kemp (School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Norita Ahmad (School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Lucia Pappalardo (Department of Business and Management College of Art of Sciences, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Alison Williams (Department of Business and Management, Rochester Institute of Technology – Dubai Campus, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 24 August 2020

Issue publication date: 22 March 2021

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate career choices by female graduates from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to determine factors that influenced their entry, abandonment or persistence of STEM careers.

Design/methodology/approach

Life history narratives were collected from a sample group of employed citizens and expatriate women (all STEM graduates) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Content of interview transcripts was analyzed for emergent themes of influence on these participants career decisions.

Findings

Four significant themes of calling were found: gift of intellect, belief in a faith, shared community and meaning of work. A typology of calling was constructed to reflect these themes influences on the entry, abandonment or persistence of women in a STEM career.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study were from a small sample of women in a particular country. The implication is to extend this study to a larger number of participants and to other countries to generalize the results.

Practical implications

Insight into career decisions of female STEM graduates impacts on employee recruitment and retention policies within those professions.

Originality/value

Research originality is evident, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, as this is the first study to explore the influence of calling for careers of STEM women working in the Middle East North Africa region.

Keywords

Citation

Kemp, L.J., Ahmad, N., Pappalardo, L. and Williams, A. (2021), "Career calling: women STEM graduates in the United Arab Emirates", Gender in Management, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 169-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-11-2019-0205

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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