Female Emirati graduates
and the multicultural,
mixed gender workplace
The impact of educational experiences
on female students’ team-related behaviours,
skills, values and attitudes within
the Gulf region
Ulster Business School, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Belfast, UK, and
Norman S. Wright
College of Business, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine differences in team-related behaviours, skills,
attitudes and values on the part of female Arab students with different educational experiences.
Design/methodology/approach – A survey instrument was administered to two female Arab
student groupings: one from a single-gender, single-nationality university (n ¼ 77), the second from a
co-educational, mixed nationality university (n ¼ 41). Based on a literature review, respondents were
asked to recall their most recent team experience and respond to a number of items relating to team
member demographics, team performance and individual team-related behaviours and attitudes.
Findings – The ﬁndings show signiﬁcant differences between the two groups in relation to
individual behaviours and attitudes to teamwork, and in reports of team performance. Those students
working in homogenous teams reported healthier levels of team performance, and a more positive
attitude to working in teams. However, they were also found to be signiﬁcantly more likely to engage
in behaviours detrimental to effective team functioning, such as hiding true voice and changing views
to accommodate the team, and expressed lower preference for working in heterogeneous teams.
Practical implications – Given the multi-cultural and mixed gender nature of (much of) the
workplace within the Gulf region, and government policy aimed at increasing the number of females
active in the workforce, the observed differences in team behaviours and attitudes have implications
for both education policy and the development of teamworking skills, and workplace management,
in terms of employee recruitment, selection and placement, socialisation and training.
Originality/value – Females are playing an increasing role in the workforce of many Arab nations.
However, to date little research has been carried out into the work-related values and attitudes of Arab
females. This is especially so in the area of working in multi-cultural and mixed gender teams.
The present paper helps address this gap.
Keywords Women, Graduates, Team working, Team performance, Gender, United Arab Emirates
Paper type Research paper
The workforce in many parts of the Gulf region continues to comprise a multitude of
diverse nationalities. Increasingly, organisations within the region are relying on teams
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received December 2009
Revised March 2010
Accepted May 2010
Team Performance Management
Vol. 16 No. 5/6, 2010
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited