Introduction: The Jordanian context
Though Jordan has one of the ‘poorest economies in the Middle East, with 14 percent of Jordanians living below the poverty line,’ it has one of the highest literacy rates in the region (United Nations Development Programme, 2012, 7). This reflects the access to education that primary school aged children have with 91 percent of all children attending primary school. Of these, 49 percent are girls and 51 percent are boys. While attendance drops at the university level where there is only a 31 percent attendance rate, it is interesting to note that the percentage rates of those women and men attending are reversed at 51.9 percent women and 49.1 percent men (United Nations Development Programme, 2012, 7). This reflects the government’s investment in education which enabled Jordan ‘to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in education in 2005’ (Al-Zoubi, 2014, 45). Despite such impressive success in education of women, they make up less than 16 percent of the workforce (International Finance Corporation, 2015, 17).
With such a low rate of female employment, it is not surprising that the World Bank found the rate of women’s participation in top management positions in Jordan among ‘some of the lowest in the world, even compared to other Middle Eastern countries’ (International Finance Corporation, 2015, 17). In large measure this is because Jordanian women ‘usually only work a few years prior to getting married, raising a family, and unceremoniously slipping out of working outside the home’...
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