I’ve written previously in the past few months about the improvements being seen in the labour market at the moment, with employers increasingly looking to recruit again, especially for talented individuals. Whilst this represents great news for much of society, there is one group who are unlikely to benefit.
Research conducted by Bristol University’s Dr Nabil Khattab highlights the challenges Muslim women face when looking for work. It suggests that a Muslim woman is around 70 percent less likely to be successful in their job search than an equally qualified Christian woman.
He suggests that the reason for this could be discrimination in the recruitment and hiring processes used by organisations.
Data reveals that Muslim women have an unemployment rate of around 18 percent, which is roughly double that of Hindu women, and over four times the rate for white Christian women.
The Unemployment of Muslim women
Previously, this poor rate of employment has been linked with the qualifications held by Muslim women or their English skills. For instance, roughly half of Muslim women have a degree compared to their Hindu peers, whilst just under 30 percent of Muslim women regard English as their primary language.
Dr Khattab delved into things more deeply via a large survey of over 2,500 women to try and get to the bottom of the matter. His analysis tried to ensure that like for like was compared, especially in terms of langauge abilities and educational levels.
His research revealed that Muslim women were roughly 70 percent more likely to be unemployed than a white Christian woman, even if they had exactly the same language skills and educational level. Interestingly, similar findings emerged for Hindu women, who were found to be 57 percent more likely to unemployed than their white Christian peers.
The figures were adjusted for things such as marital status, the strength of religious belief and whether the woman had children or not, so it hopefully provides a valid comparison.
"This study utilises data from three sources to explain the employment patterns among Muslim women in the UK," Dr Khattab said. "It provides a thorough analysis of a wide range of factors that have not been analysed in previous studies such as the impact of language skills and the importance of religion.
"Economic activity among Muslim women in the UK remains considerably lower and their unemployment rate remains significantly higher than the majority group even after controlling for qualifications and other individual characteristics."
He went on to suggest that the relatively high visibility of Muslim women was likely to be a contributory factor in their high unemployment rate. Clothing such as the hijab makes Muslim women more visible, and therefore more vulnerable to discrimination.
See Also: A Guide to Wearing a Hijab in the Workplace
How inclusive is your own workplace? Do you think it offers a fair opportunity to Muslim women? I’d love to hear your personal experiences so please share them in the comments section below.