Taking a Step Back? Expatriation Consequences on Women in Dual-Career Couples in the Gulf
RQ: How is the career capital of expatriate women affected by working in the Middle East as part of a DCC?
2. Literature Review
2.1. Dual-Career Couples and Their Career Strategies
2.2. Expatriate Women’s Career Capital in a Middle Eastern Contextual Setting
3.2. Interview Guide and Procedure
3.3. Data Analysis
4.1. Conflicting Career Plans
‘I think yes if I had said I sacrificed anything it would be when I resigned from [my previous employer] and worked in Kuwait. It was a pretty big step back, but again it was better that we were together and that we were both in Kuwait rather than travelling every week. So it was for the right reasons.’
‘[My husband’s] job paid a little bit better than mine, but not much. We were at the point where it would have been either one of us. I left a really, really good job, that in the midst of my darkest days I regretted horribly. It took me about nine months to find the job at AirCo, and it was hell. I am not a stay-at-home person; I don’t like to be unemployed.’
‘It took a serious toll on my confidence, and my ego. The problem was I was applying primarily for jobs that you saw on the web, because I didn’t have a network, I didn’t have anything established. I ended up getting my job because I started playing mah-jong, I was talking about my job search and [my friend said her] husband works at AirCo, and voila, two months later I have a job.’
‘Applying was just disastrous. I think I applied for a million jobs and didn’t hear anything. No confirmation they’d received anything, and it was quite soul destroying. Or you’d find an advert that seemed alright, and then it was like, but you need to be on your husband’s visa.’
4.2. Work–Life Infrastructure Challenge
‘And Bristol was, for [my husband], a better career move. Now he makes way more money than I do; he used to make a little more money than I do, now he makes way more.’
‘When you’ve only really got your husband’s work friends as friends, you don’t have your own life really… I think at that point it was just like, I will take any money, I don’t care, I just need to do something.’
‘[My husband] is going to be quite lucky, he’s found himself a role in the UK business. He’s going to be working in a team where there’s international travel and the team that he worked with to establish the project in Qatar five years ago. I haven’t; it’s difficult knowing where to go’.
4.3. Unforeseen Barriers
‘They talk about the glass ceiling; they talk about women not being equal in the workforce. I’ve been a senior director now, in my last job in California… I’d never felt that being female caused me any disadvantages… I think… I fall into the trap that women here do, and I am less aggressive and assertive as my male counterparts are.’
‘You don’t see a lot of women at the executive level in many of the companies across the UAE. [My husband] wants to progress his career further, and I don’t know if I’ll get much further in [my current employer]. I just think that there’s a little bit of a glass ceiling. A lot of people in the Middle East who work are men, so therefore by default there ends up being boys’ clubs, whether you like it or not. My male colleague is more comfortable talking to another male colleague rather than talking to me.’
‘If you have children you have to have a maid essentially because they don’t really have any childcare, particularly before school and after school. It’s very difficult to have two people in a family with young children who are both careers-driven, so one of you does have to step back a bit in order to maintain family unity. I never wanted to devolve my responsibility as a mother to someone else.’
‘I didn’t really develop my career in any way. I was head of department in the UK and then I took a job out in the Middle East as just a plain main pay scale teacher. I didn’t progress my career, and by the end of the experience I hadn’t gone backwards either, so I remained at the same place. And in teaching, your experience in the British education system is actually more important than experience abroad, so if I’d have stayed out much longer than four years then I may not have been able to get a job when I got back into the UK.’
4.4. Prioritising Women’s Careers
It’s given me what I want. I wanted to develop this networking amongst different departments and being in the project management office is clearly working with everybody. I had a very significant involvement in the commercial and financial management of the work that we are doing here, which is something, a box that I needed to tick in my experience, which is great.
6.1. Practical Implications
6.2. Limitations and Future Research
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Code||Nationality||Age||Children||Industry||Job Role/Seniority||Expatriate Status||Years in GCC||Career Coordination Strategy 1|
|Topic||Example Question Asked|
|Professional background||Please tell me about your professional background and any previous overseas experience.|
What were your reasons for relocating internationally?
|Destination||What were your initial perceptions of [host country]? Where there any appealing/deterring factors?|
What were your aspirations for the international experience?
|Adjustment||Can you tell me about your mobilisation experience?|
What initial cultural differences did you experience?
What was the role of internal/external networks during your adjustment?
What challenges did you face?
What support did you receive?
|Family||Who relocated with you?|
What opportunities did the international experience provide for your family?
What challenges did your family face?
How did you manage your work–life balance?
|Career coordination strategy||How did you prioritise your career?|
How did you access career opportunities?
Did you encounter any career barriers?
Have you ever had to compromise on your career plan?
How has your career plan changed?
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Ridgway, M. Taking a Step Back? Expatriation Consequences on Women in Dual-Career Couples in the Gulf. Merits 2021, 1, 47-60. https://doi.org/10.3390/merits1010006
Ridgway M. Taking a Step Back? Expatriation Consequences on Women in Dual-Career Couples in the Gulf. Merits. 2021; 1(1):47-60. https://doi.org/10.3390/merits1010006Chicago/Turabian Style
Ridgway, Maranda. 2021. "Taking a Step Back? Expatriation Consequences on Women in Dual-Career Couples in the Gulf" Merits 1, no. 1: 47-60. https://doi.org/10.3390/merits1010006