Women Outnumber Men In STEM In The UAE (Video)

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When you think of gender issues in the Middle East, you probably think of there being fewer rights for women. In the UAE, however, some of your ideas might well be flipped on their heads. For example, it’s a common issue in the US and many other countries that women are heavily outnumbered by men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In the UAE, it’s the opposite — there’s actually an effort to get more men interested and involved in STEM. There’s more about that and other gender topics in the following interview I conducted with Dr Nawal Al Hosany — director of sustainability at Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, and director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize — during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015*.

*Full Disclosure: Masdar covered my trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015, and I do some contract work for the clean energy corporation.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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4 thoughts on “Women Outnumber Men In STEM In The UAE (Video)

  • That women outnumber men in STEM is not unique to the UAE. It’s a fact of life almost everywhere – including in the US.

    However, there is a distinct lack of progression through the ranks for women. At undergraduate levels, women outnumber men in all but a few disciplines (physics and mechanical engineering come to mind). In the highest tiers of academia, I can’t name a single country in the world where men don’t outnumber women.

    • We’re talking about jobs, not studies.

      “According to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey, women comprise 48 percent of the U.S. workforce but just 24 percent of workers in STEM fields. Half as many women are working in STEM jobs as would be expected if gender representation in STEM professions mirrored the overall workforce. This underrepresentation has remained fairly consistent over the past decade, even as women’s share of the college-educated workforce has increased.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_STEM_fields

      I’m pretty sure it’s a similar situation in Europe. If you have some stats to show otherwise, please share.

      • The problem with using jobs as a measure of equality is that there is a very strong lag effect. If perfect equality were achieved today, it would take a few decades before that equality has trickled through into the broader workforce. After all, there’s a huge existing body of existing workers whose gender balance can’t be altered.

        However, in a country like the UAE that is a newcomer to the STEM party, recent graduates make up a much larger share of STEM workers.

        As such, comparing total STEM jobs between the UAE and the west is an apples-and-oranges affair. The fairest comparison would be comparing STEM jobs for recent graduates in both the UAE and a western nation, but afaik those statistics aren’t routinely collected. Barring that, counting students is the next best measure of the current gender balance.

        I’m not saying the UAE doesn’t deserve applause for its high share of women in STEM, only that it is somewhat misguided to try to directly compare the UAE and a western nation of choice.

        • As you say differences between countries make direct comparison difficult, and along with your thought of the UAE being a newcomer to the STEM party, in an interview posted yesterday Zach was noting how young people in these positions are compared to other countries.
          Then there is is the cultural/societal influence, even with women’s rights starting in the US more than a century ago there are still issues with equal pay, and hitting the glass ceiling in promotion levels due to the “old boy network” in corporate culture.
          It seems that I heard too that even in France which has had positive educational, child care, and leave time policies for women or men for quite a while, there is still a disparity when you get to the higher levels of either business or government. Not sure if this also applies to pay rates there, but there was a piece last year on how even in the Obama Whitehouse staff, with a leader that often talks about equal rights, it doesn’t show in the pay of men and women.
          What things will be like in the UAE in twenty or thirty years is hard to predict, they have a society that is changing quickly, but still has the strong Muslim influence. If there will be as many women left in these STEM positions, and if they will be in the positions of power with equitable pay, or will the male centric culture have its gradual influence in pushing them down or out.

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