The role of embedded cultural traditions is reflected in the fact that the Nordic countries "exhibit a remarkably high participation rate of mothers" in the workforce (Gupta et al, 2008, p. 65). This is linked to the strong tradition of working women, which has supported the development of a welfare state model and family friendly policies such as shared maternity and paternity leave and child welfare policies. However, there is also an argument that some of these policies are not as beneficial. For example, Gupta et al (2008, p. 65) argue that policies such as "the right to be on long paid maternal leave have adverse effects on women’s wages with consequences for gender equality. Indeed, extensive family-friendly schemes may even have created a ‘system-based glass ceiling’ hindering women’s career progression". This is supported by Eydal et al (2015, p. 167) who notes that over the past decade the Nordic countries have begun to move away from emphasising the dual earner model, and are instead moving towards "a more traditional family model approach where the mother is seen as the main parent". This change is generally promoted as being designed to respect the ‘free choice’ of individual families around how to balance work and the family, which raises the question of whether it is driven by demands from women, or social pressure from men.
Traditional views of women's roles in society have been shown to leak into the workplace. Acker (1990), for instance, argues that the gendered nature of modern work means that conceptions of the ‘universal worker’ are tied with men. This thus marginalises women and creates long-term gender segregation in organisations, with women excluded from informal networks and mentoring opportunities, creating subtle barriers to women's progress, which are hard to eradicate. This is reflected in the findings of Kelan (2009, p. 197) that: “although gender discrimination remains a feature of working life in many contexts, research on gender in organizations has shown that workplaces are often constructed as gender neutral”. Such a construction should prevent gender discrimination by making workplace procedures around pay, selection and promotion blind to gender issues. However, Belliveau (2012) argues that this is not the case, because work and employment are inherently gendered concepts. As such, attempting to construct organisations as being gender-neutral means that they are more likely to reflect dominant male values and encourage masculine dialogue, thus disadvantaging women.
At the same time, the gender nature of organisations is not necessarily obvious, but can be highly stratified and differentiated both within and across workplaces and industries. In particular, there is evidence to suggest that the degree of masculinity within businesses is influenced by the position of an employee within an organisational hierarchy. This is reflected in the 'glass ceiling', which illustrates that "although in the last decades there have been an increasing number of female managers; few make it to top management positions" (Sools et al, 2007, p. 413). The lack of women in senior management is believed to be a result of an excessive focus on masculine characteristics such as decisiveness and aggression amongst top managers and the assumption that such characteristics are more likely to be possessed by men (Sools et al, 2007). The issue of stratification and barriers to equality at the higher levels of organisations has been observed across an array of contexts, including in public sector businesses such as education, which are not as overtly gendered as many private sector organisations. In this sector, men remain inherently favoured ahead of women for higher-level positions in educational organisations, which continue to systematically act against women's equal involvement in senior roles (Fletcher et al, 2007).
Saudi cultural traditions