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Extensive literature on labor markets has supported the proposition that gender is one of the most common attributes that explains disparity in wages, benefits, promotion, and other organizational achievement indicators. According to several scholars, work organizations can be treated as arenas on which social conflicts between different groups of employees take place. Many acknowledge that women in the GCC area have made great strides in achieving near-equality when it comes to educational attainment. In fact, recent studies by the World Bank and other regional and international agencies have shown that women in a number of GCC countries now constitute a significant percentage of university graduates. The increase in the number of private universities in the Gulf has further allowed women to claim a larger share of the region’s labor market. However, such successes may not have extended from the educational to the labor domain.

Much of the existing literature exploring barriers and facilitators to women’s career advancement has focused on identifying the personal qualities and characteristics that are associated with career success. In this paper, we focus on educational attainment as the main predictor of career success. We argue that in the case of the GCC region, little research has looked at the different impacts of educational attainment on career advancement for men and women. This is especially disconcerting considering the monumental changes in the role of women as participants in educational and labor spheres in the region. We employ survey methodology to collect data on educational and career attainments in the GCC countries for both men and women, and discuss the implications of our analysis and results for higher education professionals and policy makers.


Originally published in:

Dakhli, M., Dinkha, J., & Matta, M. (2010). Educational Attainment and Career Success in the GCC: Does Gender Matter? AUK Occasional Papers, 4: 3-10. American University of Kuwait.

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