To reach the upper echelons of two male-dominated industries: construction and oil and gas, a Qatari expert in corporate governance said she had to “break all the rules associated with and built on gender bias and stereotyping.”
“If I can do it, other women can, too,” said Barzan Holdings chief support officer Maryam al-Mansoori, who spoke to Gulf Times on the varied opportunities for women in Qatar’s industrial sector.
According to al-Mansoori, she had invested much time and effort in academic and professional development, which helped her shift from one discipline to another, enabling her to “build bridges.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2001, al-Mansoori continued her studies and later earned a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from HEC Paris in 2012. In between, she also acquired several professional certifications. She is currently pursuing her PhD studies in Qatar.
“People are always talking about ladders but in my case, I was building bridges. I was changing disciplines after making informed decisions that were based on a certain track record that I was trying to achieve.
“As of today, I am very proud to say that my portfolio covers many different business disciplines and areas: human resources, talent management, procurement and supply chain, marketing strategy and planning, business excellence, digital strategy, and corporate governance, among others,” al-Mansoori said, who is also a member of Barzan Holding’s management team specialising in military services investment.
She added: “Putting a lot of emphasis on gender is a form of labelling and discrimination, so when people ask me if women are successful and are given equal opportunities, I tell them to take a look at my own track record.”
In today’s society, many women are prevented from advancing their careers because of barriers such as gender bias and stereotyping. But al-Mansoori said there are plenty of success stories to demonstrate “how good, skilled, and qualified women are in the workplace.”
In the construction industry, al-Mansoori noted that there are certain processes in the business, such as design, building, property and building management, and sales and leasing.
“There is a lot of focus on construction or the building process itself, which is pretty much male-oriented. But joining management and the business side of it, we can expand this process much further. The market and business game are changing, so construction is no longer all about muscles, and digital disruptions are changing the rules of the game,” she said.
Al-Mansoori said developments in the construction industry such as automation, 3D printing, and advanced modular construction technology, among others, offers many opportunities for women.
“In these cases, male masculinity and dominance are eliminated – this is not only an opportunity for women but it is proof that you cannot stereotype the industry anymore based on gender. The industry is no longer male dominated and the game is all about the best and not the strongest. It is now a level playing field.
“The similarities and differences between men and women could either be taken as opportunities or as barriers. There are endless opportunities for women but my advice is that they should stay focused and committed; they need to be careful in selecting the opportunities before them,” said al-Mansoori.
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