Women, Higher Education, and the Labor Market: A Cross-Cultural Understanding of the Impact of Religion

By Allison Fife, Shannon Peterson and Stacey Hills.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: May 20, 2016 $US5.00

How do deeply-held cultural perspectives shape the desire and ability of women to pursue higher education and/or careers? More specifically, how do religious and cultural perspectives on the family, the role of women, and the role of education influence a woman’s decision to obtain higher education and her perceived ability or desire to seek full- time employment upon graduation? To answer these questions, this research utilized a cross-cultural survey instrument to compare and contrast the perceptions of female, undergraduate students in one predominantly Muslim/Middle Eastern society—Dubai, UAE—and one predominantly Mormon/Western society—Utah, USA. We find that despite diverse cultural backgrounds, Islam and Mormonism have remarkably similar perceived effects on attitudes towards work, family, and education among young, college-aged women in both societies. In particular, we find that women in both cultures place family interests firmly above career and education, although the latter are clearly intertwined with expectations of the predominant religion. Given the growing interest on female perceptions in the workforce and the ability of women to “balance” career and family interests, this research helps fill the gap in cross-cultural knowledge on this topic and, in particular, helps us gain further insight on the influence of religion in determining attitudes towards work, family, and higher education.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural, Women, Religion, Education, Career

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 11, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: May 20, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 783.344KB)).

Allison Fife

Student in Economics and Finance, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA

Dr. Shannon Peterson

Clinical Assistant Professor; Director of Huntsman Scholars Program, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA

Dr. Stacey Hills

Associate Professor, Chair, McCormick Division of Business, Southern Vermont College, Bennington, Vermont, USA