Profiles of Women in STE in United Arab Emirates

Education:

Literacy Rate (2006)  81%
Primary School Enrollment (2006)  70%
Secondary School Enrollment (2006)  64%
Tertiary School Enrollment (2006)  39%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Science
(1995/1996)
 9.9%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Medicine
(1995/1996)
 1.7%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Engineering
(1995/1996)
 2.6%

Employment:

2006 Female Labor Force Participation Rate:  38%
Wage Equality for Similar Work (Ratio of women’s wage to men’s wage)  0.71
Enterprise-Level Policies to Combat and Prevent Sexual Harassment  3.90
    • Education is free from the primary school to the university level. It is compulsory by law; however, it is not strictly enforced and is often left to the discretion of the father or other male family members. Schools in the UAE are gender segregated at all levels, and the curriculum taught in girls’ institutions tend to be gender-biased, teaching girls to obey their fathers and husbands and reinforcing their roles are mothers and caretakers . Enrollment rate for girls in primary school is 70%, about equal to the boys’ enrollment. In 1995-1999 the ratio of girl to boy students for primary school enrollment was 0.96, and for secondary school it was 1.06, reflecting the number of girls exceeds those of boy students. In 1990-1994, the gender equality ratio in tertiary school was 2.80, and in 1995-1999, it was 4.20 demonstrating a strong showing of women in universities. These high numbers may be due to men choosing to study abroad, an option that is largely unavailable to women due to government enforced restrictions on movement. In 2006, the tertiary school enrollment for women was 39%, though studies show that only small portions choose to study sciences.
    • Because of family restrictions or gender-segregation, employment options for women are usually limited. Women are discouraged to study law because it may require them to appear in court with men. Oftentimes, employers require letters of consent from male family members before offering jobs. There is progress being made, and women can be seen in fields such as engineering, science, computer technology, professors, doctors, civil servants, and oil industry. However, there is still an apparent unwillingness of some well-educated women to work. This may be due to custom or traditions, or because of socioeconomics, implying if a woman comes from wealth, employment is a matter of choice, not necessity. Women often give up work after marriage or having children, partly because there is little child care offered and partly because of the belief that maternal care is more beneficial to children .
    • Women’s equality is not clearly established in the UAE constitution. Because of the traditional and social practices, oftentimes women’s social, economic, and legal rights are inconsistent and not fully recognized. Different laws apply for citizens of the UAE and foreign workers. For example, sexual harassment laws that apply for professional foreign women workers are not valid for domestic workers. A woman is considered a full person in the courts; however, due to social and traditional mores, women are discouraged from entering courts of law or police stations .

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