Organizational, Economic or Cultural? Firm-side Barriers to Employing Women in Saudi Arabia

Claudia Eger*, Thiemo Fetzer*, Jennifer Peck*, Saleh Alodayni*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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    All-male firms are common around the world, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, where local norms often favor gender segregation. The integration of women into these previously all-male firms is an important driver of growth in economic opportunity for women. However, the determinants of firm integration decisions are complex and engage a broad set of issues including leadership priorities and beliefs, physical workspace constraints, organizational structure, regulatory compliance, and labor costs. We systematically analyze the results of a survey of firm owners and hiring managers in Saudi Arabia on the barriers to integrating women into the workplace. We show that personal opinions and manager demographics are of core importance: the features that are best able to identify firms that employ women are the respondent’s perceptions of women’s personal qualities, the cultural appropriateness of professional tasks, and the respondent’s own demographic characteristics. Other tangible costs or operational constraints to female hiring are second-order in a statistical sense. Firms that employ women are much more likely to view female employees favorably, and this seems to be the result of experience with women in the workplace rather than a manager’s broad attitude toward employing women.
    TidsskriftWorld Development
    Antal sider16
    StatusUdgivet - dec. 2022


    • Gender
    • Labor demand
    • Discrimination
    • Women's employment
    • Firm employment decisions