The research paper was aimed at investigating the differences in communication exhibited by the Emirati men and women in their places of work. The study wanted to bring out a balanced perspective regarding gender relations in the UAE labour industry by looking at the differences within and across gender.
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A qualitative approach was used in this study. A set of semi-structured interview questions was used as the tool for data collection. There were 418 participants in the study, who were all citizens of the United Arab Emirates. There were slightly more male participants than the female participants; 218 and 200 respectively. The subjects were supposed to be at least 20 years old, with the upper age limit being 55 years. The first phase of the interviews were comprised of postgraduate students (76) undertaking master’s courses in the Abu Dhabi University. In the second phase, the students merged into groups and a total of 342 nationals who were not members of a university were interviewed. The age bracket of between 20 and 55 years was selected, as most employees belonged to this age bracket.
Men appeared to be direct, point specific, and quick to speak during group meetings. Men portrayed boldness in voicing their views in group settings. On the contrary, women were timid and only seemed freer to talk with female colleagues in the group settings. Women, however, spent longer periods communicating via phone compared to the males. Regarding other communities, the Emirati women were freer to communicate with persons from other nationalities, but shied off from Emirati women. During communications, men paid a lot of attention to body language than women. While men were quick to form opinions about things, women tended to go with the majority than following their own hearts. On the contrary, men subdued their emotions and avoided sharing the feelings, as opposed to women. In fact, women would freely express their emotional states to the extent of crying publicly if they were upset. Regarding listening and attention, men were poor listeners as they paid less attention as opposed to women. Women, on the other hand, gave total attention to detail. Men liked handling one issue at a time at the workplace, while women were great at multitasking. The greatest advantage that men had over women is the ability to convince others during marketing, owing to their courage and ability to provide facts and evidence.
As expressed by the author, the study faced similar limitations that apply to all studies that use a qualitative approach. For instance, bias could have been introduced during the interview process. Chances of loss of objectivity and transparency were also high. The interviewers could also introduce inaccuracies easily. However, the major limitation observed was that the authors drew conclusions from a limited sample size. In such cases, stereotyping is always inevitable.
Practical and Social Implications
These findings would be highly relevant and valuable to all persons intending to start a business or wishing to work within the UAE. The study findings would be of great value, particularly, in choosing the workforce that would drive the organization’s objectives. Similarly, the information would be of value to human right groups, who invest in fighting for the rights of women. This study provided a good picture on the state of women in the workplace in the UAE.
In the Western countries, there is plenty of information regarding differences in gender and the gender related communication. Nevertheless, some findings, such as that reported by Tannen (10-20) and Gray (90-97) still remain controversial. On the other hand, as explained by Alkhateeb (6), data regarding this topic in the UAE is limited. It implies that negative stereotyping is very common in the Middle East, especially touching on the roles of men and women in the society, as well as stereotypes revolving around the Islam religion. The timeliness of this study cannot be underestimated, given that the UAE is growing at a very promising rate, in addition to the increase in the participation of women in the labour industry.
Keywords: Gender Differences, United Arab Emirates, Work Behaviours, Communication
Though the paper is timely and its findings seem to be of great value, the validity of this data remains questionable owing to the many flaws evident in the methodology used. From the methodology, the reader is left to assume that age was the only inclusion and exclusion criteria, as no other information concerning this is provided. The rationale behind selecting master’s students for the initial interview is not known, as this study targeted the workplace and not the education system. Furthermore, whether the 324 persons interviewed by these students were employed or not cannot be established, which raises credibility issues about the data collected.
The nature of the questionnaires used is also unknown. Perhaps, the authors could have provided the set of questions as an appendix so that the reader can have a picture of the questions that the subjects were asked. No raw data, such as direct quotations is provided, thus it is easy to think that the authors expressed their individual opinion, rather than the actual findings from the study. The conclusion that the same differences are observed in various job categories is misleading. The situation cannot be the same in senior government offices, in business, or in casual labour jobs market. It would be better if the author highlighted the differences in these categories. The use of students to carry out such a research is not ideal because students may lack actual research experience. Consequently, there is a higher possibility of generating errors, particularly at the crucial interviewing stage. Such an error could have been translated into the final analysis and reporting.
The timing of this research work was excellent. One major boost to this study is the fact that the author established a good background for the study with a detailed literature review and drawing comparisons with the Western countries. The manner in which the findings were reported was ideal, as it is easy to read and understand the findings. The author used simple language and terms that can be easily understood. Another boost to this study is the manner in which the author explained the applicability of the study findings. Choosing to explain where each individual finding can be applied makes it easier for any investor to apply the information only relevant to their investment or business. The primary objectives of the study were met, therefore, there is a clear picture of the state of gender differences in communication at the workplace in the UAE.
The research was timely and highly relevant. The information from the study is of great value to any individual, within or outside the UAE, who has intentions of investing in the UAE. However, the study would be of greater value if the concerns raised about the methodology of the study were addressed.
Alkhateeb, M. Haitham. “Gender Differences in Mathematics Achievement among High School Students in the United Arab Emirates, 1991-2000.” School Science and Mathematics 101.1 (2001) : 5-9. Print.
Gray, John. Men Are From Mars And Women are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What you Want in your Relationship. New York: Harper Collins, 1992. Print.
Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: William Morrow, 2007. Print.