An investigation of gender and generational differences in attitudes toward the importance of a college degree in the UAE

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Gender in Management


© 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: This study examines attitudes toward higher education for men and women among male and female students and parents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and demonstrates gender differences in parent and student expectations about the importance of higher education. Design/methodology/approach: This quantitative study examines attitudes toward higher education among 461 matched students and parents (total sample size 1442 respondents) in six higher education institutions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and demonstrates gender differences between parent and student perceptions. Findings: In general, attitudes about the importance of a college degree were high and stable, except that younger, more recent female graduates were more likely to disagree that family traditions were threatened by women completing a college degree. Socio-demographic variables were associated with more favorable attitudes about the value of education for global leadership, the importance of a college education for both men and women and gender equality. Research limitations/implications: Six higher education institutions were represented in the sample so external validity can be improved by studying these variables in other sample groups across the nation, region and globe. In addition, including additional types of universities, e.g. distance learning, technical, research and military, would indicate if the findings are generalizable to a broader range of institutions of higher education. There are opportunities for future comparative studies to examine the relevance of these findings across cultures and government initiatives to build national human resource capital and to consider other aspects of intergenerational relationships, attitudes and behaviors. Originality/value: The authors examine perceived implications of the value of higher education on different arenas of men and women’s lives among the Emirates. Additionally, we focus on whether their attitudes vary by gender and generation.

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