As a country that is keen to uphold its religious ideologies and not compromise for the sake of anything, UAE’s idea to empower women by encouraging them to join aviation was far-fetched. According to cultural norms, females are supposed to stay at home, sire children, and take care of them while the males fend for their females. This ideology was deeply entrenched in many Muslim societies, and everyone was afraid to go against it. The country’s embracement of the western culture opened the eyes of the people, and the women at least got the opportunity of receiving formal education (Jabeen & Isakovic, 2018).
Despite that, their career pathways were still limited and restricted to only those that adhered to the Muslim way of life. Based on the organizational concept of individual differences, these cultural norms on women’s societal responsibility hindered them from showing the peculiarity in the corporate world. The government understood that these cultural norms could be removed without interfering with the religious norms. However, it had no remorse for the cultural norms that had impeded the Emirati women from unlocking their hidden potential. The government scrapped these retrogressive laws, allowing women to build a career in various aviation industry fields.
Growing UAE Aviation Sector
Scientific management theory states that people are always drawn to something on basis of what they opt to benefit from it. Thus, besides removing the cultural norms as a strategy to motivate women to join aviation, the government has always been keen on growing its aviation sector. The industry’s growth created several job opportunities that men and females could fill in. Among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, UAE was a significant contributor to the rigorous growth and development of aviation once it realized how effective the niche could help its global endeavors. This far-fetched thought saw the country establish the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to provide safety and strengthen its aviation business.
Building the Esteem of Women
These infrastructures soon paid off; within two decades, the UAE aviation sector witnessed unprecedented growth and became a crucial player in the global aviation industry. With a world-class aviation industry, UAE’s international expansion was imminent, but the impeding factor was the small number of pilots available. The absence of pilots presented the government with the opportunity to show the world that women can also be pilots or serve in other aviation industry capacities.
The government understood that the women workforce could not achieve the business’s long-term goals. Women in society are the backbone of family life and social structure, and having them in the industry meant unprecedented growth for the industry in the future (Jabeen & Isakovic, 2018). As such, the availability of world-class infrastructure motivated the UAE women, thereby resulting in them joining the aviation sector, and by 2001, the country produced the first female pilot. This achievement paved the way for Emirati women and acted as an inspiration to almost all young girls in UAE and probably many Muslim countries, making them keen on establishing their careers in the aviation sector.
Establishing Academic Institutions
The unprecedented growth in the number of women who wanted to work in the aviation sector was triggered by the government initiatives such as establishing academic institutions. Through these institutions, the government hoped to nurture in-house talent to serve the airline industry’s demands. The government’s goodwill gesture of helping women join the aviation industry attracted other stakeholders in the industry, such as Etihad Airways, who also began offering Emirati females training programs (Jabeen & Isakovic, 2018).
These airlines were already being dominated by the men but through the institutionalization of the scientific management theory that seeks to nurture mutuality of interest and cooperation, the incorporation of women was a success. These training programs were useful as they seek to encourage the women that they had the potential of doing anything with little or no help from the males. The training thus produced the first female Emirate pilot to fly unaccompanied. Today, there is even a day: 28th August that has been set aside to commemorate women’s achievement in UAE’s aviation sector.
Evaluation of Hurdles and Hitches
Even though significant steps have been made toward ensuring that many women join the aviation sector, there still exist hurdles that sometimes threaten to reverse the gains made. These hurdles include:
Cultural demurral was one hindrance that they had to climb over as working women. Since the inception of the sector, it was always known that the industry is for men and the cultural norms even made it impossible for any woman to have thoughts of ever working in the working. That hurdle was passed, and the women gained entry into the industry. However, the industry’s stereotypical aspect still exists, and thus, why any major milestone made by a woman in the industry is celebrated and considered extra-ordinary. This aspect shows that since women might have gained entry into the sector, the men still have the upper hand in the industry, which is sometimes demoralizing to some who aspire for greatness in the business (Jabeen & Isakovic, 2018).
The government may be committed to ensuring that women get fair treatment in the industry, but people on the ground, especially the males, may have conflicting ideas about empowerment. These individuals may try to make the females’ lives miserable to discourage them from working in the sector. This means that they always have to work twice as hard as the males in the industry to prove themselves.
Women’s Societal Norms
One area that which this empowerment has not been compromised is women’s position in society. This, as such, has been a hindrance to many women whose scope of work and training entails traveling extensively to other countries and even sharing space with strange men. According to Jabeen and Isakovic (2018), married women have had it rough since, on many occasions, they have been forced to choose between career and their marriage. Family is a vital institution in society, and a woman’s presences are always valuable as far as taking care of the home and being a companion. Men not being home because of work is understood, but it is not for women that many of them sometimes have had to drop their careers and take care of their families. But for women who have understanding families, the sky has been the limit.
Safety to Women’s Health
Safety to women’s health is also another aspect that has deterred from aspiring higher, at least in aeronautical engineering. Women are always restricted in areas that they can access while working on an aircraft (Jabeen & Isakovic, 2018). It is believed that certain aircraft parts might adversely affect the health of women and their fertility. Dealing with rudder and going inside the fuel tank discouraged is not for women. Therefore, the health concerns present a picture that women in the aviation industry will always need men to handle various tasks, which may somehow impact their ability to conduct an aircraft comfortably.
Also, maternity leave is another aspect that may bring down their reliability in the aviation sector. Since the government is committed to ensuring that every woman who aspires to work in the industry gets an opportunity, there are still not many experienced women to allow for substitution. Thus, sometimes if a woman goes on maternity leave, it is a man who substitutes for her and not a woman.
Even though several measures have been taken to enhance women’s development and employability in the UAE’s aviation sector, much can still be done to improve their employment status in society. These measures include:
Maternity LeaveMarried women should always be paired with one or more experienced females that are yet to be married. The pairing will ensure that no void is left when a woman goes on maternity leave. The government should also institute shared parental leave after the birth of a child.
Many women in a senior positions in the aviation sector should always be seen since it encourages women in more junior roles to see them. It gives them the motivation to persevere through the hardship no matter how eternal it may be since they know the prize that awaits them at the end. The government should encourage these women in senior positions to share their stories and the hardship that they had to endure to reach the top.
Tapping into Education System
Establishing institutions that help develop women’s knowledge in aviation is not enough since they only cater to grown-ups. The government should seek to tap into the education system to show young women that the aviation industry is not for men alone. Introducing such a mentality to them gradually harden them and make them work with confidence in the industry when they get the opportunity.
Changing Aviation Image
The government should also seek to encourage airlines to change their image. The traditional way of advertising where males are shown as pilots, while the females as flight attendants should be discouraged. Airlines should start using women as pilots when advertising, thus preventing the notion that the only service a woman can offer on a plane is serving drinks and snacks. Media advertising appeals to many people, and using women as pilots to run airline advertisements will encourage many young women across the country to validate their aviation dreams.
Highlight Women’s Capability
Even though the men may receive it negatively, the government should highlight the economic and productivity argument around having more women in the aviation industry. Studies indicate that in organizations where there are three or more women at the helm of management, performance is always higher in all dimensions of organizational effectiveness. This will build confidence among the women and aspire for higher positions.
Ease Women’s Work Scope
Since women may have equated themselves to men in the aviation sector, their wellbeing, flexibility, and leadership need to be aligned. The government should ensure the women are not put through stereotypical long working hours and stressful environments since it might discourage them from aspiring for top positions.
Adjust Working Schedule
Family is vital for the growth of a society, and it is the women who know how best to run their families compared to men. Thus, the government should work out a schedule that will allow women to have time for their families and work. A meaningful balance between work and home will encourage many young women to join the sector and know that it is possible to have a family and be a pilot.
Women form an integral part of society, and since men try to downplay this, it is a fact. It is encouraging that an Arab country, such as UAE, has forgone the many cultural norms that oppressed women’s capability in the corporate world. Implementing the strategies based on the understanding of organizational behavior concepts and theory has helped the government make great strides toward motivating women to join the aviation sector. Several hindrances may exist, but most of them may be addressed through the implementation of the recommendations.
Jabeen, F., & Isakovic, A. A. (2018). Examining the impact of organizational culture on trust and career satisfaction in the UAE public sector. Employee Relations, 40(6), 1036-1053. Web.