Women scientists in the Middle East hoping to rise to senior positions are being given a helping hand by two experts in global leadership competencies.
Dr Liza Howe-Walsh and Dr Sarah Turnbull, from the University of Portsmouth Business School, have won funding to run workshops which could help revolutionise women’s career paths.
Their workshops will include psychometric diagnostic assessments to reveal whether barriers women might have to becoming leaders exist in their minds or personality, in their skills, or in another area. The workshops will also include one-to-one sessions to help women navigate their way to the tops of their careers.
Dr Howe-Walsh, an international human resources expert, and Dr Turnbull, a marketing expert who has worked in the Gulf at senior level for many years, are among a very limited number of specialists worldwide who are qualified to use the Kozai Group’s Global Competencies Index (GCI). The GCI index is a psychometric instrument designed to assess an individual’s current global competence and examines personal qualities associated with effectiveness in intercultural situations including perception management, relationship management and self management.
Dr Howe-Walsh said: "This project will investigate developing Arab women entering the science and technology professions in the Middle East and explore the wider career progression implications for women working in these fields.
"It builds upon existing information on the range of positive traits and qualities seen in women in positions of global leadership, and acknowledges that the challenges faced by female Arab leaders differ from those faced by female leaders in Western countries.”
To date, there have been no focused investigations of the nature of global competencies in Arab women, but female leadership has been identified as a priority in the Middle East and many companies are seeking to develop and promote leadership roles for women in science and technology.
Dr Turnbull said: "The use of the GCI index enables organisations to assess the global competencies of individuals and is valuable in nurturing the development of cultural diversity and global leadership.
"Our work in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will investigate developing Arab women and explore the wider implications for women working in the life sciences and engineering professions.
"The results of the workshops will help us measure predispositions associated with effective inter-cultural behaviour and leadership. Crucially, they will also help us identify to the women who take part any barriers they might have and help them find ways around them.”
The project is a new collaboration between the University’s Business School and its science faculty. Dr Jan Shute, a Reader in Pharmacology in the science faculty, is delivering a keynote speech at the workshops in which she will share her own experiences and strategies to overcome challenges she has faced in making a career in science. Astronomer Dr Karen Masters, of the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, will also be a keynote speaker discussing her own career experiences as well as strategies to overcome the challenges faced.
The four researchers hope their work helps them win accreditation from Athena Swan which lobbies for the advancement of women in careers in science, engineering and technology.
The results of the study will be presented at conferences in the Middle East in 2013.
Drs Howe-Walsh and Turnbull presented their initial research at the Gulf Education Agenda in London in May to an audience of politicians, ambassadors, educators and fellow researchers from the Middle East.