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A Multi-Level Approach to Facilitate Women’s Employment in the Middle East

Special issue call for papers from Personnel Review

Deadline for paper submission: October 31st 2018

Guest Editors

Fida Afiouni
Associate Professor of HRM at the Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, [email protected] 

Charlotte M. Karam

Associate Professor of OB, at the Olayan School of Business , American University of Beirut, [email protected]

A notable phenomenon in the Middle East is the growing number of educated and skilled women who are unemployed at disproportionate rates when compared to their male compatriots (Karam and Afiouni, 2014; Karam and Jamali, 2013; Moghadam, 2004; ILO, 2016). In contrast to the Leaking Pipeline described in many national contexts in Europe and North America (see Blickenstaff, 2005), it appears that in the Middle East, the pipeline is experiencing ever-increasing pressure -- what has been referred to as the Bursting Pipeline (Karam and Afiouni, 2014). The term Bursting Pipeline captures the growing situation in the region where more and more women are equipped with knowledge, skills, and abilities, but are unable to secure employment (see Karam and Afiouni, 2014). This special issue aims to focus the conversation specifically around phenomenon of the Bursting Pipeline and the pipeline block. In doing this, our aim is to stimulate reflections on multi-level factors that: (1) work to maintain and augment the pipeline block and (2) can help to dissipate the block both from within and outside of the employer organizations allowing thus for the Bursting Pipeline of women to enter into meaningful, formal employment.

We therefore call for examining the pipeline block and strategies to dissipate the block from various angles and at various levels of analysis including: the international level (e.g., intergovernmental organizations and inclusion agendas); macro-level (e.g., government initiatives, public sector reform, employment policies, economic and social development agendas); and the level of the organization (e.g., HR engagement initiatives, affirmative action, career development plans). We encourage theoretical and empirical exploration of initiatives to address, overcome or sidestep sources of this pipeline block both within as well as outside of organizations. These studies should stretch the discussion beyond descriptions of patriarchal biases, gender stereotypes and generalized discussions of the neo-patriarchal states in the region.

We welcome manuscripts that seek to cross disciplinary boundaries in order to develop new perspectives and novel insights about women’s employment in the Middle East. We expect manuscripts to bring strong empirical contributions that develop and extend theory as well as more conceptual papers that integrate critique and expand existing theory, and that suggest social action and policy-making that aims to improve the working lives of women in the region. We encourage the use of methods that are appropriate to both the research context and research questions and therefore welcome both qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation and analysis. We also welcome papers that combine different empirical methods and which explore different levels of analysis.

Indicative list of topics

International and Macro-Level
     •Human Resource Development Strategies bringing together government agencies, international organizations, private and transnational organizations and women’s organizations, which can help build a larger female labor force.
     •The intersection of government policy, Islam, and gender and its implication for employment policy development in trying to balance between potential problems of introducing religious symbols and expressions into the workplace with the desire of religious communities to express their identities.
     •The description and review of previous successful mobilization patterns in the region, and of previous indigenously generated initiatives aimed at generating positive change for women at work; followed by suggestions on how to leverage previously used strategies to inform the efforts of today.

Organizational Level
     •The organizational factors contributing to the gender gap in employment in the Middle East and the role that HR and HRD can play in facilitating greater representation.
     •The potential role that HR and HRD can play to help open access for women to employment and to shape their advancement and indigenous career patterns.
     •The antecedents required for the actual implementation of already existing HR/HRD policies in the workplace that would favor gender equity.
     •Human resource policies developed by organizations and that reflect the life priorities and prevailing values within the region; that is, the way in which organizations integrate local dynamics such as the centrality of the family, Islam, and patriarchal complementarily within their human resource policies and how this impacts women’s at work.
     •Indigenously generated management policies and practices and their ability to encourage or facilitate positive change for women in regional organizations.
     •The role of businesses (e.g., through CSR initiatives) in the realignment of efforts, resources, and discourse to promote positive reforms across the region, and to strengthen those within societies who are advancing change in favor of women.
     •Indigenously generated HR and related organizational discourses, opportunities, and solutions in response to the generation of positive change for women in regional organizations.

Deadline of submission, timetable and authors’ guidelines:

Papers should be formatted in accordance with the Personnel Review style, which can be found here Papers to be considered for this special issue should be submitted no later than 31st October 2018 via the Personnel Review Scholar One website: as well as by emailing the guest editors ([email protected]). Please be sure to select the correct special issue from the dropdown menu when submitting your manuscript.

Each paper will be reviewed by the guest editors and, if found suitable, will be sent to at least two independent referees for double-blind peer review.

The Guest Editors would be glad to discuss ideas for papers informally via email:
Fida Afiouni: [email protected]
Charlotte Karam [email protected]

Deadline of full paper submission: 31 October 2018
Forwarding the reviews (first review) to the authors: 15 February 2019
Deadline of submission of the revised articles: 30 May 2019
Forwarding the reviews (second review) to the authors: 15 September 2019
Deadline of submission of the final versions of the articles: 30 January 2020
Availability of the special issue: May 2020


Blickenstaff, J.C. (2005), “Women and Science Careers: Leaky Pipeline or Gender Filter?” Gender and Education, Vol 17, No 4, pp.369–386.
International Labor Organization. (2016). Women in business and management: gaining momentum in the Middle East and North Africa: regional report. Beirut.
Karam, C. M., &  Afiouni, F. (2014), “Localizing women's experiences in academia: multilevel factors at play in the Arab Middle East and North Africa”, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol 25n No 4, pp.500-538.
Karam, C. M., and Jamali, D. (2013), “Gendering CSR in the Arab Middle East: an institutional perspective”, Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol.23 No.1, pp.31-68.
Moghadam, V.M., (2004), “Patriarchy in Transition: Women and the Changing Family in the Middle East”, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp.137-162.