Accepted paper:

Tackling social norms: Jordanian women and non-traditional work


Lina Khraise (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

This research looks at the various work experiences of women across socioeconomic classes in Amman, Jordan. By focusing on non-traditional work, the extent to which social norms are challenged is explored.

Paper long abstract:

Protective provisions in the Jordanian labour law enact special working conditions for women. Such restrictions mandate suitable sectors and working hours which relegate the agency of women in choosing their careers. These laws are reflective of social norms that believe women to be more vulnerable and neglect that men too require protective provisions. Similarly, social norms influence occupational segregation and mandate suitable sectors and working hours for women. As such, women who transcend these boundaries by working in non-traditional fields contest social norms. This research looks at how women navigate their motives and careers in non-traditional work with regards to norms. Forty-two women from various occupations, socioeconomic classes and formal and informal sectors in Amman, Jordan were interviewed. Vignettes were presented to encourage discussion on topics of job choice, norms about women in the workplace and work experience. The interviews revealed that through daily interactions women negotiate with families, male colleagues and institutionalised norms to change perceptions about suitable sectors and work hours. The extent that the women navigated their careers around structural factors differed by class, occupation and sector. Where some women found niches in their area of work and created enclaves that complied with social norms, other women chose to further engage in non-traditional work and directly challenged social norms by entering construction worksites, working in male dominated workplaces and taking on night shifts.

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