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

Claudia Eger, Thiemo Fetzer, Jennifer Peck, Saleh Alodayni

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    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 these 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 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 the personal characteristics and subjective beliefs of hiring managers and owners are a dominant feature in determining whether a firm hires women. Other tangible costs or operational constraints to female hiring appear secondorder in a statistical sense. The results suggest that shifting perceptions of hiring managers and business owners can be an important driver of the transition toward increased female economic participation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2021
    Number of pages30
    Publication statusPublished - 2021
    EventMENA Chief Economist Seminar Series - World Bank, Washington, United States
    Duration: 20 May 202120 May 2021


    SeminarMENA Chief Economist Seminar Series
    LocationWorld Bank
    Country/TerritoryUnited States

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