Sunday, April 17, 2005

Women leaders need to strike right balance - Khaleej Times Online

DUBAI - Education undoubtedly plays a key role in developing women leaders globally, but to excel in the local UAE market, women leaders must also maintain a balance between careers and family and respect business ethics, voiced prominent national and exaptraite women participating in the 'Women, Education and Achievement' seminar hosted in Dubai on Sunday.
It is an empirical question whether "to excel" at work "women leaders must also maintain a balance between careers and family." There may be some complementarities between career and family and these should reveal themselves in the data. For now, though, I remain inclined to believe that firms know what is in their best interest, and what firms appear to believe is that family demands on an employee's time take away from productivity at work.

The seminar organised by the Australian Embassy in cooperation with Sultan Al Owais Cultural Foundation featured two Australian senior visiting academics, Professor Helen Grant, Vice-Chancellor, Charles Darwin University, Wendy McCarthy, Chancellor of University of Canberra, and two prominent UAE women leaders - Dr Fatima Al Sayegh, Lecturer in history, UAE University, and Latifa Fikri, Sales and Business Development Manager, Etisalat, Dubai.
It is interesting what the article does not say. It does not say that conferees said business should be more open to hiring women despite business perceptions that women have competing family pressures that men are likely avoiding. (Such as childbearing, childrearing, caring for aging parents, and housework. There is substantial empirical evidence that women, even if they work, do more of these things than men do. And feminist groups cite this evidence with regularity.)

Perhaps this value judgment - that businesses should treat men and women equally - went unstated (if it did) because these four women realize that they each work for businesses which are protected by the government. Businesses that are not protected from competition will be driven out of business if they act contrary to profit maximizing behavior.

If government places a value on women participating in the labor market, then government needs to do more than require business to do so. Government will need to subsidize female employment. Unless of course females and males are perfect substitutes in production. However, in this case the firms will voluntarily treat them equally. Unless of course the firms are ignorant of what is good for them. Perhaps, then, the burden on government is to disabuse firms of their ignorance by providing them with that evidence.

No comments: