The phenomenon of gender inequality in the workplace comes from the existing stereotypes about the social roles of genders and the perceived limitations of females in different spheres of activity. This obstacle creates real barriers for self-realization of females in different fields and within society in general. The author will present and distinguish the main limitations and opportunities that the females face in the aviation industry in the UAE. The discussion of the current situation in this sphere should serve as a basis for more effective self-realization of females in the country.

The Gender Barriers in the UAE

The World Experience of Gender Inequality

The problem of gender inequality has become a relevant issue in modern society. The barriers that women face is often based on the stereotypes and the distribution of tasks between the genders. The woman was always considered mainly as a keeper of the home and was expected to raise the children (Lantara, 2015, p.1). In this situation, a woman is required to combine the roles of the housewife and the development of the professional career. The analysis of the international experience in the treatment of females in the professional sphere shows that society in general does not provide the support for the development of females and their career growth.

This argument is especially relevant for females working in the transportation industry. Here, the poor working conditions – “working time, shift-working (24/7), and the location of employment” (Turnbull, 2013, p.8), are the factors that typically determined the lack of confidence in the females’ ability to effectively operate in this sphere. Turnbull (2013) had also stated that the majority of barriers for women at the workplace, including gender stereotypes, family structure, and educational limitations, are a part of modern society. It is important to note that the majority of women’s decisions to abandon the workplace have been connected with workplace problems (Harvard Business Review, 2013). In this way, it is possible to say that work conditions in modern companies lack opportunities for full realization of gender equality principles.

To support this argument, the following findings can be useful. According to research by the Harvard Business Review (2013), male employees in modern companies are more likely to be assigned to critical positions and a higher level of confidence from the management. The important limitation for giving important assignments to women is also connected with the fact that females are less likely to accept unethical decisions (Harvard Business Review, 2013). To support these findings of the gender inequality in the workplace worldwide, it is important to carefully discuss the existing traditions in the UAE.

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The Existing Gender Traditions in the UAE

In addition to the worldwide experience of gender inequality in the workplace, it is important to study the specifics of this question in the UAE. Here, it is possible to distinguish the following obstacles to the development of gender equality views in the UAE society: physical, theological, and sociocultural (Lantara, 2015, p.3-4). The physical barrier defines the absence of equality in the physical conditions and facilities between males and females. The sociocultural barrier is characterized by the existing stereotypes about the role of female as housewives. As for the theological barriers, it is especially important within UAE society. As an Islamic state, the UAE defines high standards for the role of woman as a housewife and person who cannot be given an important assignment. The patriarchal character of religion defines significant barriers to the self-realization of women (Alibeli, 2015, p.113). Though UAE society aims to reduce the influence of religion and build a secular state, the power of religion is significant in the country.

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It is necessary to note that the negative assessment of the social role of the females is relevant not only for males but also for other females in the UAE (Alibeli, 2015, p.118). This is the result of cultural stereotypes that have to be overcome to guarantee the effective development of UAE society. Furthermore, the latest changes in the gender policies of the state create opportunities for social optimism.

The Recent Changes in the Gender Politics in Aviation Industry

The Fight against Stereotypes in the UAE

As can be seen from the results of the historical analysis, the development of gender stereotypes in the UAE was connected with the beginning of the oil period of the country’s economic development (Al Mutawa, 2016). The orientation on the oil as a main source of income in the UAE did not require active attraction of females to the economic development of the state. At the same time, the modern period in the history of the country is characterized by the active diversification of the macroeconomic sources of income. Here, specific attention had been paid to the transportation and services industries. According to these changes, the portrait of the modern UAE female citizen had also changed. Today, women in the UAE can effectively hold the dual roles of the housewife and the educated specialist with the aim of career growth (Al Mutawa, 2016). In fact, the change of the economic development model in the UAE can be one of the reasons that has led to the active change of the state policy in the sphere of gender equality.

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Here, the UAE government presents a significant level of political liberalization. The main idea of the contemporary changes in the UAE gender policy is to provide opportunities for full realization of the females’ potential in the sphere of economy and business (UAE Ministry of State, 2016). As for the aviation industry, the growing demand for female specialists, especially the pilots (Al Rousi, 2016), should become the basis for more active inclusion of females into the economic life of the state. It is important to define the positive changes in the estimation of the females’ role in UAE society, especially among the youth (Al Othman, 2011, p.245). This obstacle also serves as a basis for social optimism.

The Current Role of Women in the UAE Aviation

The current positive changes in the gender policy in the UAE has also affected the situation in the aviation industry. First of all, the majority of the civil aviation companies in the country have recognized the important role of female specialists in the business development process (Jacotine, 2015). The active role of females in the civil aviation industry in the UAE can be expressed with one fact that about 43.5 % of all employees in the civil aviation are female (Hazarika & Boukareva, 2016). Though it is still too early to speak about the removal of all gender barriers in the UAE society and in the workplace, the current positive trend in the change of the gender policy can be considered as one of the important steps on the path to the democratization of UAE society.


The analysis of the gender inequality specifics in UAE society had demonstrated the orientation on the democratization and the establishment of equal rights for all the citizens of the country. As for the situation in the aviation industry, the requirement to guarantee sustainable economic growth forced the civil aviation companies to improve the work conditions for females and provide better opportunities for their career development. It is important to pay high attention to the self-organization of the movements for the protection of political rights for females in the country.

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