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Emirati women’s professional legitimacy: Synergy of the political and the personal amid constraint and self-determination

Valerie Priscilla Goby (College of Business, Zayed University, Dubai, UAE)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 25 February 2020

Issue publication date: 25 January 2021




This paper reports an exploration of changing the legitimacy judgments of Emirati women employees in the UAE’s public sector. This paper aims to fill the research gap on gender at employee, rather than managerial level, a topic that has already generated considerable research.


Data derived from semi-structured interviews with 29 Emirati women working in the public sector is analyzed using NVivo 12 to identify their attitudes to, and experience of, participating in the workforce.


Interview narratives reveal that women not only consider that they have the right to enhanced professional status but also view this as exerting a positive impact on their personal lives.

Research limitations/implications

It is suggested that this emerging sense of entitlement to work may be traced to the early political endorsement of women in the UAE workforce, underscoring the value of political and judicial agendas that contribute to female legitimacy and their rigorous implementation.


This study highlights the imperative of political goodwill and equitable legislation, as well as the need to assess Islamic values versus patriarchal biases in relation to women in the workforce.



Goby, V.P. (2021), "Emirati women’s professional legitimacy: Synergy of the political and the personal amid constraint and self-determination", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 1-15.



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