Race and religion should never hold you back from finding your dream job, but even in a 21st century world, there are still many challenges for Muslim women. Read on to find out how you can empower yourself and succeed in your career.
In 2016, the BBC reported that despite more Muslim women going into higher education than men, few women were taking the next steps and entering the job market. So, nearly a decade later, how are we fairing?
In many schools and universities, they have made higher education legal advice available to students to help combat these inequalities. That said, the stigma of Muslim girls staying at home and focussing on their families over their career remains prevalent in society. This can have a knock-on effect on the younger generation.
With that in mind, here are eight tips to remind young Muslim women that you can do anything you put your mind to.
1. Your Religion is Your Choice
The first point to remember is that being a Muslim is a choice, and not a chore. Although it is culturally encouraged to live by a certain set of beliefs, you have full reign of your future and are entitled to make whatever decisions you see fit for you and your family.
Many women decide to convert to Islam later in life and live by strict Muslim principles despite not being “born into” the religion. Reminding yourself of your female autonomy can help when you start to doubt yourself and the things you can achieve.
2. Have Confidence in Yourself
Studies show that women are less self-assured than men and underestimate their performance. To start to tackle this so-called “confidence gap,” young women of all ethnicities and religions must come together to build themselves up.
If you think you’re good at something, you probably are – and dare we say maybe even better than many males? Make sure to surround yourself with people that believe in you and your abilities, and you’ll find yourself becoming more and more confident and pursuing your dreams in a much more defiant way.
3. Believe in Allah
If you’re still struggling to find the right path, pray to Allah for his help and guidance.
In the Quran, Allah says: “And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Surah Al-Talaq, verses 3).
You should have faith in your decision-making and know that, as long as you are not entering a career that involves forbidden characteristics such as immoral behaviour, corruption, bribery or interest-based transactions, you are doing yourself proud and pursuing a path that is right for you.
4. Don’t Give Up
Sometimes, applying for job applications can be tedious and you can often be left feeling flat and deflated. Everyone experiences rejection at some point in their career, and knockbacks can help you learn and evolve as a person.
If you’re feeling like you’re not getting anywhere, take some time out and reflect upon what you could be doing differently. Remember, there’s no right or wrong approach to achieving your career goals. You may just need a little extra time, or some help along the way.
5. Never Compromise Your Beliefs
Recently, in another legal debate on wearing religious clothing in the workplace, judges ruled that women are allowed to be sacked by employers for refusing to remove their hijabs. Although this sort of legislation is becoming all too common, don’t let it deter you from your goals, or make you feel pressured to compromise your beliefs for any employer.
To follow your career dreams, you must feel completely content in your job role. If you ever feel pushed to compromise your beliefs or moral compass, seek solace in the knowledge that the job is not right for you, and you could be better placed somewhere else.
6. Consider Different Types of Working
It can take a while to adjust when working in a new environment, so why not consider working from home? During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies made the transition to this style of working and, as a result, most have now adopted a hybrid working approach.
Not all jobs will suit working from home, so make sure you consider this when looking for a potential career. That said, there are a multitude of benefits, such as managing your own time and allowing you to be more independent.
What’s more, your employee will often allow you to work flexible hours at home. This can be particularly beneficial for women who have children and are trying to juggle being a full-time mum on top of their career.
7. Look Into the Company EDI’s
When looking at potential jobs, make sure you delve into each company’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion values to find out how they’re ensuring fair treatment and opportunity for all.
Often a company’s values and mantras will tell you what you want to hear. So, to ensure they’re fully embedded in the workplace, ask questions at an interview and don’t be afraid to challenge them.
By asking questions such as, “Do you think your business is diverse?” you’ll start to form a clearer picture of how they’re continually trying to eradicate prejudice or discrimination.
8. Be Open to Conversation
It’s important to remember that many members of society may not fully understand Islam as a religion or way of life. Likely, when starting a job, you’ll work with people from all walks of life. So, mutually respecting each other is a key ingredient for career success.
You may end up working with colleagues that would like to learn more about the religion, so strive to be as open and honest as possible. To avoid a cultural divide in the workplace, try to inform and educate others when they ask questions and seem genuinely interested.
Ready to Achieve Your Career Dreams as a Muslim Woman?
So, there you have it. Hopefully, these top tips will inspire you to see what’s out there. If you’re struggling to find a career that’s right for you, don’t panic – there are plenty more resources out there offering educational advice.
Most importantly, remember to never give up and to use your faith to your advantage to guide you and make you stand out from the crowd.