Women who are interested in a certain field but are hesitant to join it because it is dominated by men should learn not to doubt themselves and rely on their passion and hard work, experts at the Women of Substance Awards 2018 advised.
Speaking during a panel discussion about women empowerment, Fatima Al Jaber, board member of Al Jaber Group, said: "Work hard, have passion, and things will happen."
In addition, she also stressed that women need to realise that having the right type of support will make their lives and pursuing their careers much easier. "I always say that men are not competitors, but friends and people who you can talk to and ask for help. Some of the best ideas come from simply talking and brainstorming. I encourage both young women and men to pursue their dreams together. Our visionary leaders have created an environment in the UAE where both can do so."
She added: "I often find myself in places where I am the only woman, and I always think to myself why this is still the case. I always encourage women to aim for places, even if there aren't that many women there. One woman entering a male dominated space will open the way for many more to follow, because they will be inspired by her dedication and success."
She encouraged women to challenge themselves and continue to set new goals for themselves after every success. "This is a way for you to achieve excellence and keep pushing boundaries as you move forward."
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO of Novo Cinemas, said that it is important to encourage women to believe that they can do everything that they want to do.
"You have to provide them with the proper environment and the support that they need to succeed. One thing that is invaluable for them is to find a mentor. This can be a family friend, or a colleague from work who will guide and support you. I have been fortunate to find one, because women do have doubts and we tend to second guess ourselves - often when we are moving up the ladder. In such cases, you need to remind yourself that you have got this far and that this is just another step in your career. Don't be afraid to try new things."
Nayla Al Khaja, the first Emirati woman film director, agreed that women are often under the pressure of self-doubt, and are sometimes hesitant to accept promotions as a result. "You still don't see women in a lot of positions of power in a few industries. I hope that will change soon, because women also need support when they are in the top levels of the company; and frankly, it gets lonely being an only girl at the top."
Al Khaja also noted that the UAE boasts a very good gender balance compared to many other countries. "However, there is still a lot more that can be done. For example, there should be more grants that will allow young people to get into segments that they love." - [email protected]