Some time ago, a female finance manager in the USA said to me "It doesn't matter who you are or how smart and hard-working you are, the business world you will get to know as a woman is different than the actual business world." These are definitely not the most encouraging words, but it is no secret that to this day it is still much more difficult for women to advance in the business world. For females, the competition takes a different shape. No matter the difficulties however, women in the Middle East have found a solution in enterprenureal finanace.
According to an article in the New York Times, senior management in private equity worldwide is composed of only 9% females. In the Middle East the numbers are even lower, which is not surprising given that less than a third of females there enter the job market. Many female business professionals have decided to enter the market on their own and establish smaller private equity firms.
A major problem for women in that region is that there are many cultural barriers. These include banning women from mixing in public places with men in some countries or strict dress codes in others. Also, in a highly male dominated environment, females need to be that much more aggressive in order to be heard. Unfortunately, even when they are heard their ideas are often dismissed without much consideration.
Moreover, banks are more reluctant to give out loans to females and make the process more complicated and prolong it for as long as possible. However, there are those who realize the importance of increasing the female workforce and help them as much as possible. These are usually professionals who have worked abroad and have seen how much more common it is in western nations for females to be in higher positions in the business world.
It is essential for women to be accepted in the business world because having a larger workforce means having more minds working together to innovate and advance the economy. Integrating women in the workforce is a task that is taking awhile but the goal is being accomplished.