Discrimination is everywhere. The work environment is allegedly fair, giving equal opportunities to different sections in the community. But stereotyping is a problem highly present in the work environment. A lot of people are denied the opportunity to get a promotion or even get a job in the first place because they don’t fit certain criteria that have nothing to do with the job description.
Individuals covered under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws are protected from illegal discrimination, which occurs when people who share a certain characteristic, such as race, age, or gender, are discriminated against because of that characteristic. People who have the designated characteristics are called the protected class. In theory, laws have identified the following characteristics for protection:
- Race, ethnic origin, color
- Gender (women, including those who are pregnant)
- Age (individuals over 40)
- Individuals with disabilities (physical and mental)
However, examining the work environment, we find that these laws are often broken indirectly and without causing companies any liabilities. In fact, there are law experts who ensure that the company can get away with breaking these laws. A lot of people might be harassed at the company or denied a promotion due to their different color or ethnic origin, attributing certain characteristics to certain ethnicities. This is highly recognizable in the GCC and the US, basically any country recognized with diverse ethnicities.
If a man and a woman have the same qualifications, the man is more likely to get a higher wage provided that the job does not depend on looks. Women are usually preferred in public relations jobs, especially young good-looking women. Pregnant women are usually discarded at the early stage of screening CVs and preliminary interviews, as they are expected to go on maternity leave where the company is not allowed to get someone else to fill the post. The same case happens with people with disabilities although companies are legally required to provide a certain percentage of available posts to disabled people. But the problem usually lies in defining disabilities.
People above a certain age are usually considered “outdated”, less technology-friendly and more likely to adopt traditional ways towards problem solving. This is unnecessarily true as all individuals are equally likely to benefit from training sessions devoted to introducing new technologies, regardless of their age.
Misconceptions based on stereotyping affect the productivity in the work environment. Denying certain individuals or sections in society the opportunity to work is depriving them from the right to live and grow as human beings. But still it happens every day.
Photography: Hadeer El’Masry
EDITOR: Nada Adel Sobhi
My first Work Abuse Experience was from another Woman! ~ Work Diaries
Written By: Dr. Hanan Abd El Moniem
Translated By: Mahmoud Mansi
In my early career, I was lucky to accidentally meet the CEO of the company I worked for in the elevator. I was excited because she was the first female to become a CEO in the Oil and Gas sector in Egypt. She wasn’t smiling as I was, and later on it was announced in the company that no one is allowed to use the elevator with the CEO! By the end of the week I was surprised to find myself transferred into another department and given responsibilities that were lower than my qualifications.
I spent 3 days suffering, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I understood from now on, that the management style was based on fear and authority, and in suppressing the ambitious people of the company so they can “know their limits”!
It is ironic that my first work abuse experience was from another woman, who was assigned as CEO in the first place to promote gender equality!
I refused the rules of the corporate where the strong people are the unfair or unethical, I had to establish my own powers, which were education and patience. That’s when I decided to invest more of my time in self-development, and focused on my education.
On the fourth day, I started my education journey in the American University in Cairo, and I chose to specialize in Quality. For me quality was not only about work, but it was about life, relationships, communication, and eventually in human resources, work-life balance and employee wellness.
I have learnt to always set to myself KPIs, my main KPIs were my self-development and empowerment, after I fulfilled that I moved to another KPI, which was training and developing 5000 employees working in the Oil and Gas sector across Egypt, and now I am fulfilling my third KPI, which is empowering others to ethically fight for their rights, to become more empathetic as well as intellectual, and mainly helping people to become more humane.
Discussed in 1st Arab Women Summit in North America: https://arabwomensummit.com/team/dr-hanan-abdelmoniem/
Book Review: “When Women Unite”, by Abir Yassin
When Women Unite, a one act play, written by Mahmoud Mansi. I would totally say about this play that it is not written to everyone, in a way it is shocking, controversial, questionable, and debatable. And on the other hand I would recommend it to each and every one. It is an eye-opener, can’t put it down kind of books. One can’t believe it is written by a man. The writer can totally get into women’s mind and their inner struggles regardless of their background and their beliefs.
What makes the play standout is mainly the dialogue. While reading, you find your own words and thoughts been told through the characters, to the extent that some lines you act it out while reading.
Concerning the ideas discussed, in a way one can consider it shocking, and on the other way it is so real and deliberated on so many levels through many channels out there. The play has no red lines, it goes through politics and religion and all those areas that one can consider tabooed.
The title, “When Women Unite”, gives the right idea about the main theme of the play which is “women rights” shown through three different ladies, with various life style, minds and orientations. The setting of the play, a demonstration, gives the thoughts a lot of space to be exposed as a bomb. Gives the characters the opportunity to speak out their inner and hidden ideas, which all women on planet Earth has in their black box. The playwright opened that black box with no mercy.
The characters’ development is a little bit fast due to the timeline of the play where by the end they reach their liberty. They reached this freedom when they opened up to each other and expose their wounds to the air.
As a reader, I may tell that it is a great time consuming play to be read. I didn’t waste a minute reading it, a very successful experiment by the writer.
Link to Book on Amazon.com:
Book Review: When Women Unite, Review By Nesma Yassien
About the Book
When Women Unite: A Play about Challenges facing the Modern Movement of Feminism and Gender Dialogue, written by Mahmoud Mansi.
The play is written about the movement of feminism, where women from different backgrounds were present in the same women’s rights protest. When they started talking about politics, relationships, religion, and feminism, they discovered that they were not on the same page. That’s mainly how the play starts and events progress.
Book Reviewer's Note
It took me roughly two hours to read the whole play. I will not lie when I say that I was a bit concerned to read a book about women written from a male (with an Eastern background) point of view. But I was surprised. I recommend including the play in universities with programs relevant to Women Studies Subject.
I liked the choice of characters especially the Harem Slave and the Conservative housewife. Their character representation is very interesting and fresh. These characters are given a platform to voice their opinions which I believe are very anti-stereotypes. Those two specific characters are either not well-represented in literature or are represented as passive, pathetic, and voiceless women. However, you managed to give them a new light by highlighting their multiple humane, feminine, and rebellious sides. For instance, people would never think that a conservative housewife and a Harem Slave would have such big ambitions that would eventually change society (which I believe is represented by the Enshrouded Man).
The first chapter does mirror our society’s mindset through the healthy argument/debate between the characters. The characters represent a variety of cultures, beliefs and background and that has made the play universal.
The play is also timeless and this is evident in chapter two. Discrimination against women has existed ages ago. According to the author’s choice of the characters of Cleopatra and Harem Slave, the issue goes beyond the boundaries of time and space.
Moreover, the characterization of Cleopatra is very clever. Cleopatra has been always portrayed in films and books in a negative light, but the author provided a whole new light to her personality by presenting her as Mother nature- a woman who has the venom and the cure.
Cleopatra discusses the concept of Evilness in a new light. Her words reminded me of Fyodor Dostoyvesky’s idea of pain in Notes From The Underground; how important pain is to the body. According to the Protagonist, without the feeling of pain, no one would realize that the body is dying. The same applies to Evilness in the play. Evil is important to set things right too. Also pain is essential to save the whole body, and so is Evil; it demands us to cure society as a whole without discrimination. The cure is knowledge, confession and acceptance.
The third chapter is fascinating. The characters reveal their past and the readers discover that they are more or less the same. All characters share things in common and they all experience a moment of epiphany after they confess and accept each others’ past.
We are all humans who sin and make wrong choices, but in order to become strong and to unite one should confront himself and accept and embrace her/his sins and wrong choices in life (same as when they confess and embrace each other). This is therapeutic. This is when they are truly free and equal. They all (including the Enshrouded Man) choose to make the right choice by following their passion regardless of how society would see them. This is When Women Unite.
Link to Book on Amazon.com:
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