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Mothers as managers: Work-family balance and identity at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. / Mai GH H. S Al-Suwaileh

Swansea University Author: Mai GH H. S, Al-Suwaileh

Abstract

As a consequence of the discovery of oil in Kuwait in 1940, Kuwaiti culture has undergone major changes. From the 1950s onwards women actively entered the workplace alongside men and this has had a noticeable impact on women's lives. Despite some progress, however, women's struggle for gre...

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Published: 2015
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42795
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Abstract: As a consequence of the discovery of oil in Kuwait in 1940, Kuwaiti culture has undergone major changes. From the 1950s onwards women actively entered the workplace alongside men and this has had a noticeable impact on women's lives. Despite some progress, however, women's struggle for greater equality continues to be influenced by Kuwaiti social and cultural beliefs. This thesis is the first in-depth qualitative analysis of the barriers facing mothers working in management in Kuwait. Specifically, the complex interrelationship between culture, gender and management is explored. It argues that work-family imbalance in Kuwait is a consequence of social and cultural beliefs concerning the status of women in that society. The study classifies the main cultural and gender-related issues affecting the roles of mothers working in management in Kuwait, with a view to helping such women succeed in their working and family lives. The circumstances facing working women in modern, affluent Kuwait while they attempt to raise large families is analysed by reviewing women's status and issues of cultural inequality in modern Kuwaiti society and how this affects their employment. The study adopted a qualitative research methodology to explore factors affecting women's working lives, female identity in the workplace, and work-family balance and conflict. In the first of its two phases, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 mothers in management positions at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education. A life history approach was then taken with another four women to fully investigate how cultural beliefs impact women's rights over their lives and bodies in Kuwaiti society. The main findings indicate that the participants perceived themselves to be affected by work-life imbalance, based on patriarchal ideals being imposed on gender roles, thus creating conflict and destabilising women's self-perceptions in ways which are quite specific to Kuwait. Most importantly, it was found that women in managerial roles tended to reject certain inherent female qualities in themselves and other women, while simultaneously preserving an outward display of traditional femininity. In other words, there was evidence of an unresolved identity crisis. This thesis concludes that women at higher levels of management find it difficult to juggle work and family life because of cultural identity issues in the Kuwaiti context. This problem is significant, as Kuwaiti women would appear to experience more difficulty in this regard than women in many other parts of the world, where the key issues of work-family imbalance are found to be time management, family-friendly policies and the age and number of children. The Kuwaiti Ministry of Education is particularly problematic for women in management roles and it is important to address the issues of work-family balance in Kuwait structurally and institutionally in relation to the family, in order to support women at work.
Keywords: Public administration.;Educational administration.;Middle Eastern studies.
College: School of Management