Women in Business and Management: Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and North Africa

Data on women in management positions exclusively in the private sector is scarce globally and in the MENA region in particular.

Women’s advancement in management is challenging. Almost insurmountable obstacles block their access to top leadership positions in companies and organizations; the so-called “glass ceiling”.
Women start facing barriers at lower management levels generated from structural factors within corporations as well as from social and cultural constraints. At times it can be women themselves who are reluctant to pursue higher-level responsibilities. These factors hamper their career progression as compared to their male counterparts; this is referred to as the “sticky floor.”

When women are able to attain higher-level management positions they often find themselves in management support functions that do not lead to the highest-level management jobs. This phenomenon is also known as the “glass walls”.

Even when women do enter the labour force, their participation rates drop significantly with age, which is the time when women are experienced enough to assume higher positions and more responsibilities at work. This attrition or exit of qualified women at higher career levels from companies and organizations is often referred to as the “leaking pipeline”. It leads also to a shortage of women in senior management posts to serve as role models.