Women in Leadership in Kuwait: A Research Agenda

Gender in Management: an International Journal, Vol. 32(2), 2017

Posted: 16 Mar 2017

See all articles by Athmar Salem

Athmar Salem

The American University of Kuwait - College of Business & Economics

Mark Speece

CMMU College of Management Mahidol University; Thammasat Business School

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Purpose: To examine perceptions in Kuwait about women's leadership in management.

Design/Methodology/Approach: Review of data on the gender gap across MENA countries, comparison with selected Asian and Western countries, and summaries of multiple small surveys in Kuwait on women in management. The surveys were all convenience samples ranging from 100-500, targeting middle class respondents.

Findings: The Middle East / North Africa is behind most of the world in closing the gender gap, but progress among Gulf Cooperation Council countries has been fairly rapid. Many GCC indicators are comparable to other non-Western cultural areas. Multiple surveys in Kuwait show fairly widespread acceptance of women in leadership positions. Respondents feel that characteristics of women vs. men managers are different, but strengths and weaknesses by gender balance out, so that men and women perform about the same. Traditional Kuwaiti culture seems conducive to women in management, but some specific cultural barriers remain. In particular, the diwaniyya, social gatherings to network and discuss current affairs, and wasta, connections, are dominated by men in modern Kuwaiti society. These are essentially social capital issues.

Practical Implications: Fostering continued progress for women in management requires recognition of the actual social and cultural situation; simply arguing that Kuwait should be more Western in how it does things does not seem very useful.

Originality/Value: Research on women in management in MENA is not very extensive, but is important for understanding how to facilitate opportunities for women. In Kuwait, there seems to be general acceptance that women can be leaders in managerial positions, and little overt discrimination. However, lack of access to traditional social capital networks puts women at a disadvantage. Research needs to focus on this issue to help develop ways to overcome this subtle obstacle to further progress.

Keywords: Women Managers, Leadership, Kuwait, Social Capital, Diwanniya, Wasta

Suggested Citation

Salem, Athmar and Speece, Mark, Women in Leadership in Kuwait: A Research Agenda (2017). Gender in Management: an International Journal, Vol. 32(2), 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2932981

Athmar Salem

The American University of Kuwait - College of Business & Economics ( email )

Safat
Salmiya, 13034
Kuwait

Mark Speece (Contact Author)

CMMU College of Management Mahidol University

69 Vipawadee Rangsit Road
Samsennai, Phayathai District
Bangkok, Bangkok 10400
Thailand

Thammasat Business School

2 Prachan Road
Pra Nakorn
Bangkok, Bangkok 10200
Thailand

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
298
PlumX Metrics