A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF COLLEGE-EDUCATED QATARI WOMEN: FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE BOARDROOM
MetadataShow full item record
In Qatar, a small Middle Eastern Country, bordered by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, over 75% of college students are female but only 34% of the workforce is female. This qualitative study explores the paradox of highly educated and underemployed Qatari women through interviews with six college-educated Qatari women. To date, the majority of the research about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) focuses on national- regional- and institution-level issues and not on individual experiences. There is a particular void in understanding the individual experience of Qatari women, even though there has been energy at the national level to create policies that expand educational opportunities, and to a more limited extent, workforce opportunities for women. Given this context, this study focuses on college-educated Qatari women's motivation for and experiences with higher education and workforce opportunities. This study found that this group of highly motivated and highly educated young Qatari women were entering the workforce, challenging the existing paradox; however, it was easier for some women to take advantage of educational opportunities than professional opportunities. Women faced challenges in negotiating professional and personal identities within Qatar's rapidly changing social structure, especially in terms of shifting gender norms. They experienced points of stress, especially in the workforce and in family relationships though they remained highly motivated to acquire additional education and succeed in the workplace. This study calls for further examination of these issues and of existing paradigms of women and work in MENA.