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Women in Finance: Leveraging an MBA for Career Advancement



Advancement initiatives and professional opportunities for women in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are positively influencing the professional and educational landscape.

Offering impressive evidence of this, 70 percent of all university graduates in the UAE are Emirati women. The growth of business opportunities for women in the UAE has also made applying for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program a compelling proposition.

Supporting Women in Business

With commitments to gender equality, diversity, and women’s empowerment firmly set in law by the progressive nations of the Middle East, equal opportunities are steadily emerging for women.

Regional governments and private enterprises are openly committing to female leadership development, with women being actively encouraged to develop careers, progress professionally, and to lead private sector enterprises and government departments.

A beacon of change, the UAE is leading the way in this regard.

Regionally ranked as number one for women’s financial inclusion, political participation, and justice, women in the Emirates have equal access to economic resources, including assured equal pay, the right to ownership and control of land, property, financial services, inheritance, and natural resources. This is outlined in the Nation’s laws.

In 2021, the UAE Security and Commodities Authority also issued a mandate stating that companies must have at least one woman on their board of directors. Women currently hold 15% of the board positions for the chambers of commerce and industry, nationwide.

The positive impact of these progressive policies is evident. Female business-owners now account for 10% of all private sector companies in the UAE, with 25,000 Emirati businesswomen running projects worth AED60+ billion. The Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen list for 2023 reflected this success, with an impressive 15 Emirati women featured.

Leading Regional Gender ParityUN Gender Inequality Index 2024

The UAE has the highest gender parity of any country in the Middle East region, according to the recently launched UN Gender Inequality Index 2024, published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The United Nations Development Programme announced this new global achievement of the UAE during the meetings of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which were held in New York in March 2024. The UAE Gender Balance Council was participating at the event.

In response, HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council (UAE GBC), stated that improved ranking in global reports and indicators is strengthening the Emirates’ position as a global and regional model for gender balance.

Her Highness stressed that the strong partnership between all state departments and the cooperation of the private sector have played key roles in this achievement.

This internationally validated progress is a clear demonstration as to why NYU Stern at NYUAD is a fitting place for the region’s most professionally ambitious women to study an MBA.

An inspiration to other nations, the UAE’s progressive stance on gender balance is likely to boost career and leadership opportunities throughout the region, to the benefit of the women of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, MENA, and beyond.

Leadership Education and Opportunity – MBA in Abu Dhabi

When strong leadership is needed, a comprehensive business education matters.

The Stern at NYUAD One-year Full-time MBA Program’s curriculum is unique, with experiential internship courses taking place with top companies in the UAE and MENA region.

Designed to create a curated educational pathway to success, the curriculum covers business skills and leadership development, and has a specialization and electives in Leadership, Management, and Strategy.

Students in this specialization can develop their leadership potential and their understanding of the strategic challenges, techniques, and burdens associated with growing, competing, and prospering in the marketplace. Students will gain an overall understanding of the management process of both large and small companies, coupled with the individual skills and advanced strategic thinking necessary to serve as senior managers of business units or entire organizations.

A balanced approach to leadership learning will give women a way to develop and understand organizational performance principles, including how to manage individuals and teams and achieve organizational effectiveness.

This specialization will also introduce women to central theories and frameworks in management and organizational behavior, helping them to better understand how to apply theories while addressing organizational challenges and problems.

This 12-month MBA will also enable women from the UAE, broader Middle East, and beyond to attain a structured business education, while building the leadership skills needed to succeed, locally and internationally.

MBA for Career Advancement

Set to deliver a truly transformative learning experience, this program can offer women a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Regional employers are increasingly employing talented MBA graduates from the world’s best business schools, and Stern at NYUAD’s careers team will work with students to facilitate network introductions, support future career searches, and develop professional opportunities.

In Conclusion

As female business professionals advance, manage, and lead organizations in the Middle East and North Africa in greatly increasing numbers, significant and inevitable challenges need to be navigated.

Women can greatly benefit from the expert teaching, experiential internships, and exposure to diverse marketplaces as part of the Master in Business Administration at Stern at NYUAD.

Skills gained will support graduates as they work to secure professional positions, and will serve them well into the future as they inevitably rise through the corporate ranks.

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