Monday, December 22, 2008
Gendering a Profession
"Rania Abou Youssef, 26, a flight attendant for the Dubai-based airline, Emirates, said that when she went home to Alexandria, Egypt, her female cousins treated her like a heroine. “I’ve been doing this for four years,” she said, “and still they’re always asking, ‘Where did you go and what was it like and where are the photographs?’ ”
Many of the young Arab women working in the Persian Gulf take delight in their status as pioneers, role models for their friends and younger female relatives. Young women brought up in a culture that highly values community, they have learned to see themselves as individuals.
For many families, allowing a daughter to work, much less to travel overseas unaccompanied, may call her virtue into question and threaten her marriage prospects. Yet this culture is changing, said Musa Shteiwi, a sociologist at Jordan University in Amman. “We’re noticing more and more single women going to the gulf these days,” he said. “It’s still not exactly common, but over the last four or five years it’s become quite an observable phenomenon.”