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Female professionals in Lebanon: the trust hurdle

Article en anglais

Par Ibrahim Chalhoub Rédigé le 24/03/2011 (dernière modification le 24/03/2011)

In a patriarchal society like that of Lebanon, it would be understandable to attribute to males a supremacy which extends to various fields of work and human faculties in spite of the fact that science contests many of these superfluous assumptions.

Turn the back to trust (c) Ibrahim Chalhoub
Turn the back to trust (c) Ibrahim Chalhoub
The professional status of females seems to be undervalued by Lebanese women.
Actually, many Lebanese ladies seem to lack the trust in female professionals.
Certain specific professions and sub-professions are viewed by these ladies as masculine without any clear reason upon questioning.
Physicians are preferred to be males, except for gynecologists the choice of whom is affected by socio-cultural as well as religious considerations, when applicable.
On a scale of increased preference to males, surgeons seem to occupy the highest rank.
Females who have expressed this bais are educated from different age groups (20 – 60 years old); they are not from the medical field, however. In addition, they show consistency in their opinion as indicated by their willingness to move from a female medical doctor they had to choose before as soon as they could find the male counterpart.
Things seem as if male physicians are considered to be more competent, for some Lebanese ladies, regardless of their educational background or what additional credentials they may have.
In addition, among dentists of my acquaintance, clients of the males exceeded those of their female co-workers.
The trust in pharmacists is not contrary to the above findings despite the increased number of females in this profession.
One would not be surprised, therefore, to hear some Lebanese women laconically refusing to employ female engineers or lawyers when males of the same professions are available.
Despite the fact that the statistical significance of these cases may not be very uncontestable (they are not to be considered as a reference), they shed light over the issue to further develop statistical studies and determine factual numbers about this phenomenon especially because other Lebanese ladies are either not of this point of view (not without a clear ambivalence) or try to convey some kind of neutrality.

It would be worthy to note that what is also common among the group of ladies lacking trust in female professionals is a clear attachment to the family and a marked necessity to belong, which coincide with the concept of the “all-powerful father” projected over other males.
On the other hand, one should not underestimate the determining effect of the name where that of the country, Lebanon, is masculine in the mother tongue as well as in French (the major second language) and the adjectives used to describe professionals are not at all far from that fact.

With all the latest thrives to establish the societal importance of the roles of Lebanese women seeking equality with men or at least attaining some higher position in their eyes, the weakness is not only conveyed by the attitude of the significant others, it mainly stems from those impulses within.
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