Contextualizing privilege and disadvantage: Lessons from women expatriates in the Middle East

Jenny K. Rodriguez, Maranda Ridgway

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This paper explores how the simultaneity of privilege and disadvantage shapes the experiences of women expatriates in the Middle East. The paper problematizes the simultaneity of being an elite group (e.g. expatriates) and a disadvantaged group (e.g. women) within the context of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Drawing on literature about women and work expatriation, the paper analyzes the narratives of women expatriates to highlight the complexity and multidimensionality of their experiences, positioning the discussion within the framework of gendered institutions. The paper concludes that privilege and disadvantage are inseparable to the way the experiences of women expatriates unfold in the Middle East, and that institutional settings articulate this inseparability in order to regulate and help to maintain the gender social order. The paper contributes a nuanced understanding of the experiences of women expatriates, challenging dominant views that present this group as generally privileged by virtue of their skilled and mobile status.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2019


  • women expatriates
  • privilege
  • disadvantage
  • gendered institution
  • Middle East


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