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Women's progress in the Arab world: classroom–boardroom pipeline

Linzi J Kemp (American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 25 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 June 2021




The purpose of this conceptual paper was to investigate the contribution of the “Pipeline”, as a metaphor for building theory about Women-on-Boards (WoB) in the Arab world.


Narratives about women's progress in Arab countries were collected from a range of sources and content was analysed to identify emergent themes about pipeline.


Themes were identified of the pipeline metaphor that explained phenomena and generated solutions to employ, retain and advance women to board directorships; from higher education (“bulging”/“bursting” pipeline) through employment (“leaking” pipeline) to boardroom (“blocked” pipeline).

Research limitations/implications

Generalisation of these study results is limited by geographical context of this research. An implication is for further international studies on metaphor identification for women's progress.

Practical implications

Relevant metaphor-in-use required to generate company policy and praxis towards WoB in the Arab world.


The first academic study to investigate the value of metaphor for effect on women's progress in Arab countries. Novel metaphor identification is proposed to think and see women's experiences in cultural context.



Kemp, L.J. (2020), "Women's progress in the Arab world: classroom–boardroom pipeline", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 1279-1295.



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