To gain a deeper understanding of the subjective barriers to female employment in Jordan and to develop evidence based interventions, the World of Letters conducted a research at the Brookings Institution “Breaking through Glass Doors: A Gender Analysis of Womenomics in the Jordanian National Curriculum” as part of the Echidna Global Scholars Program.

The research is based on the theory of belief mediated change (Alexander and Christian Welzel) which states that an improvement in objective conditions for women’s empowerment in various domains can only lead to minor improvements if not combined with a change in the beliefs about the desirability and legitimacy of women’ empowerment in those domains.

The study explores the role of the school curriculum in Jordan, specifically the direct and hidden gender biases in textbooks, as a tool for the socialization of cultural and ideological messages about women and economic life. It furthermore examines the legitimacy of the practice of women’s economic empowerment in the work-environment on the example of the gendered division of labor, especially the leadership structure, in the ministry of education (MoE).

The study provides evidence for the necessity to change messaging and foster mind-set change in favor for women’s economic activity. It highlights the importance of engaging different stakeholders from local communities towards making women’s employment both legitimate and desirable.

The research findings together with over 10 years of experiences in working with local communities towards raising female employment rates in Jordan culminated in the development of the Jo-Womenomics initiative.