Working women in the UAE are more ambitious than their peers elsewhere in the world.
In a survey of 3,900 male and female executives in 31 countries, including at least 100 of whom were based in the Emirates, the global management consulting company Accenture found that 80 per cent of women questioned here were willing to take on more responsibility and challenges to advance their career. That figure compared with a global average of just 58 per cent.
Employers here were also helping them, by rolling out initiatives to support their progress, including work/life balance, counseling and mentorship programmes.
However, the news was not all as good.
More women in the UAE were dissatisfied with their jobs than men, at 56 per cent compared with 52 per cent.
Globally, the situation was reversed, with more men who reported being unhappy with their career than women, at 59 per cent compared to 57 per cent.
But only 8 per cent of women who were dissatisfied were looking elsewhere for work, compared to just 6 per cent of men.
Barriers to advancement in women's careers in the UAE included a lack of opportunity or a clear career path, which was cited four times more often as family responsibilities. But more than a third of those questioned said they had suffered no impediments.
A similar number said they had some type of flexible work schedule.
Traditionally it has not been easy to access part-time working hours in the UAE, which may have led more women to set up their own businesses, said Lucy Chow, who is co-chairwoman of the Dubai chapter of women's global network, 85 Broads.
"They might have thought, 'I have tried looking for work, it just doesn't pay enough.' Or, 'it's not at the right level,' or 'I think maybe I can do it on my own,' or 'I can consult,'" added Ms Chow, who is a former banker and founder of The Elements Group, which creates high-profile events focused on fundraising and leadership.
One such woman is Lucy Donnelly, who lives in Dubai with her husband and young child. She says the corporate world has a number of limitations for women, including maternity leave, which is shorter than in some other countries.
"(Those limitations) seem to attract women to taking their own initiative outside of day jobs, the role of mum and wife, towards their own initiatives," says Ms Donnelly, who is the principal earner in her family.
"I work full time as legal counsel to a multinational corporate and am in parallel focusing on developing my own business in order to explore the boundaries of my capabilities in the hope of one day being my own boss, to work my own hours and create my own policies on life and work balance," she adds.
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