Very few Middle Eastern women get jobs once they receive their cap and gown. How bad is the disparity? Well, in Lebanon, 54% of university students are women, but only 26% of the labor force and 8% of legislators, senior officials and managers are female. 63% of Qatar’s university population is comprised of women, but ladies make up just 12% of the labor force and only 7% of legislators, senior officials and managers. What’s going on?
Experts say the issue is that most of these women don’t go to college in hopes of getting a job afterwards; they go to meet friends and significant others. “Girls and boys continue to be socialized very differently with different expectations,” Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, Associate Professor in Literary Theory and Women’s Studies at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, told CNN. “Boys have more personal freedoms to go outside the home, whereas girls continue to be socialized within the home. Therefore, for many girls school is their only opportunity to make friends and socialize outside the family, so it is something they look forward to.” Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, Director of the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World at the Lebanese American University, had a less positive take on the phenomenon: she said many women go to school to “fill time” before they get married — or are just there to find a “better” husband. Jeez, Dima, way to support the sisterhood.