Vasha and Ayeshas stories – United Kingdom
Muslim women in Britain are three times more likely to be unemployed that women in general. Women who wear the hijab bear the brunt of discrimination.
Themes: Employment discrimination
Muslim women in Britain are three times more likely to be unemployed that women in general. Women who wear the hijab bear the brunt of discrimination. An analysis of meta-data in the UK has also shown that the likelihood of Muslim women who wear the hijab being hired is 40% lower than for Muslim women who do not wear the hijab. This religion-based discrimination effect was deemed hugely significant in human, public health and policy senses.
The data suggests that millions of Muslim women in the west are likely to have experienced employment discrimination over the past generation, with millions more likely to suffer if the status quo remains. The relatively greater employment discrimination experienced by Muslim women who wear the hijab is due largely to potential employers’ prejudicial reactions to the hijab itself and perceptions of women who wear it.
Ayesha is a qualified legal professional, who wears a hijab.
“I have a very good academic record and experience that surpasses many of my peers who are of a similar age. I have had interviews with five big household name companies for the role of in-house lawyer in the last year alone. After four consecutive rejections I decided to walk into my fifth job interview without my hijab. Bingo, I got the job. I now feel I have betrayed my principles for a job I could do just as well with my hijab on. I do not know if I would still have got this job had I worn the hijab in the interview. I wish I had the guts to start wearing it again. Hopefully, one day I will have the courage and my employers won’t batter an eyelid.”
Vasha had similar experiences,
“As a young female Muslim woman who wears a headscarf and also as a working mother, I do feel in the past I have faced some discrimination when job hunting. This usually happened once I’ve passed the application stage and have been offered an interview. As soon as I walked into some interviews, I felt I already knew I was not going to be successful – I can see the disapproval on the interviewers’ faces as they quickly glance up and down at what I am wearing. This knocked my confidence and made me feel like no matter how much experience I have and how good my education is, there are just some jobs I won’t get. I have been completely put off from applying for any corporate jobs where I just know the culture does not support a Muslim lifestyle. I now work part-time for a university, which is an excellent employer, and where I feel completely welcome and I am seen as an individual, not judged on my race, colour or religion.”
Employment discrimination faced by Muslim women wearing the hijab: exploratory meta-analysis, Sofia Ahmed