International Research and Practice
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Val Singh, Ronald J. Burke, Diana Bilimoria and Morten Huse
Chapter 10: Contrasting Positions of Women Directors in Jordan and Tunisia
Val Singh INTRODUCTION Little is known about the extent to which women have entered the decisionmaking and governing tiers of the Arab business world. This chapter reports the ﬁrst initiatives to establish benchmarking of top companies with female directors in Jordan and Tunisia. The chapter is structured as follows: a brief literature review is followed by separate reports on the position in Jordan and Tunisia. The ﬁndings are intriguing, as they are so diﬀerent in these two Arab countries. The discussion puts these results into an international context. In the conclusions section, suggestions are made for further research followed by recommendations for practice. WOMEN’S MANAGEMENT CAREERS IN ARAB COUNTRIES Arab social structures are diﬀerent from those in Western societies. The family tends to be the main unit in society rather than the individual. In a study focusing on Jordanian women, Miles (2002) reported that social and cultural barriers persisted despite the increasing proportion of Jordanian women at work. Young women reported that their families gave more career support to sons than daughters, and that they frequently had to give up their jobs to help their families. In dual career couples, domestic work was considered solely the woman’s concern. Managing a career entailed a diﬃcult negotiation process with the family, because of concerns about travel, accommodation and harassment. Women with degrees were frequently frustrated in their attempts to gain jobs at appropriate levels. They often found it easier to build careers as volunteers because their unpaid status did...
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