Contents: Qatar Professional Women's Network | Being a Professional Women in Qatar | Attitudes: Sexual Discrimination or Equal Opportunities? | Looking for Work | Family Friendly? | The QPWN | Advice for Professional Women | QPWN Contact Details
By Yousra Samir
Christina: In late February I hosted a small meeting with a group of professional women together that I had met through various channels. We just started brainstorming about what we wanted to create, and how to set-up an informal network that would appeal to any professional woman in Qatar. We then established a core planning group to focus on attracting new members and community outreach and organizing events. As we're an informal network, we're all supporting QPWN on a volunteer basis.
What sorts of events and activities does the QPWN organize?
Christina: Since May, we have been hosting monthly after-work networking coffees; they're really casual and usually just for a couple of hours in the early evening. We choose different venues, but they effectively enable women to just come and go as they wish. At the next event, we are going to play a networking game so that will stimulate some conversation and mingling. We also had an Iftaar a few weeks ago in which we raised about 3600 QR for the flood victims in Pakistan. As we mature as a network we would like to add on events that have speakers as well as round tables and panel discussions in the future.
How has the response been towards the QPWN from women here in Qatar, and the community?
Christina: The response has been very positive. Over the summer, we surveyed our members about what types of events they would like to have, where they'd like the events to be held, and some demographics about themselves. They also had the opportunity to give us feedback on the value they perceive QPWN delivering. A lot of women welcome the opportunity to meet with other professional women outside of the traditional boundaries of socializing here in Doha. Because so many women give up their careers to follow their husband, we also want women who are not currently working outside of the home to feel comfortable attending our events and enjoy the chance to network with other like-minded women.
we also want women who are not currently working outside of the home to feel comfortable attending our events
Carolin: I've spoken to a lot of women about it - even women who have been here for a long time but hadn't heard about it yet - and they're really thrilled because a lot of the socializing for women is in the morning. Doha Mums, for example is a great group, but if you are working you can't participate in any of their morning activities. So professional women were really thrilled to find out that now there is something especially for them that will take place in the evening where they can talk to other women that share their interests.
Maha: Coming from the Qatari perspective, like Christina said there was only the Qatari Businesswomen's Forum and it is so hard to get into it. For me personally, what I found about this group is that it is so easy to be part of and it's so nice because it is open to expats and Qataris so there's a mix and there are not many opportunities like this for us young Qatari women to network.
I've met so many interesting people who someday I could work with or who could benefit me in some way, helping me hopefully to open up my own business in the future. Also, unless you are working with an expat it's very hard to mix with them; it's not like we don't want to it's just the opportunity isn't there so this gives us an opportunity to cross cultures.
Christina: It's really easy! They can send an email (email@example.com) to join our mailing list, visit our website (www.qpwn.org), join our Facebook page or Linked In group, and even follow us on Twitter. Becoming a member is as simple as joining our Facebook or LinkedIn page or our mailing list- there are no application forms or membership dues. We like to the keep the group very open with the only requirement being that all of our members are women
Finally, what would be your advice for professional women in Qatar and women trying to enter the workforce?
Carolin: Persevere, persevere, persevere. Never give up.
I just see so much potential here, so much opportunity...
Christina: I would say dream big. When I say dream big it's because I just see so much potential here, so much opportunity and I really get irritated when I get a lot of expats who keep talking to me about the restrictions and limitations. I just see amazing opportunities. I mean you can really come here and create what you want and make such amazing impact on the community here and you can do things here which you cannot do in your home country.
Carolin: You can be a pioneer, you really can.