Women Employment in Saudi Arabia

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Women Employment in Saudi Arabia
The economy of Saudi Arabia has transitioned from patriarchal dominance to gender inclusive.
The country, which was once a male-dominated society, has transformed by recognizing the role
of women in the modern society. Multifaceted researchers agree that the gender scenario in
Saudi Arabia has changed markedly over the past five decades. Asya (50) reveals that since the
1970s, thousands of female students in Saudi Arabia have continually attended all levels of
education. Today, the enrollment of women students out wins that of boys in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia (KSA). This study reviews the literature concerning women educational attainment
and gender integration in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s national labor market.
Following the increased levels of women's education, Asya (50) adds that the Saudi Arabian
labor market correspondingly reflects the significant role of the educated women. According to
the International Labor Organization (2003), women’s participation increased from less than four
percent to over eighteen percent Asya (50). Today, the Omani women occupy top positions in
the government including ministerial, members of parliament and ambassadors.
Abdallah and Katlin (746) observe that women in the Arab-Muslim societies have shunned
traditional roles and ascribed to westernization, modernization, increased literacy attainment, and
a positive employment experience. The community perceived traditional women as inferior,
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fearful, and homemakers who stayed at home to serve men (Abdallah and Katlin 746). However,
this perception has lost place in the modern Saudi Arabian society. Women representation has
improved many sectors in the country.
Despite a growing women inclusion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country maintains its
conservative culture as it adheres to Islam. Women in the country still face substantial
segregation in the workplace, prayer, and public places (Linda 175). Studies show that men have
a condescending attitude towards working women. Stereotypes regarding gender roles in Islamic
societies are still prevalent (Almunajjed 10). For instance, communities view women as
homemakers and caregivers whose functions involve offering care for others and maintaining
relationships (Abdallah and Katlin 760). On the other hand, the society views men as individuals,
independent achievers, and subject to competitive success Abdallah and Katlin (748). The Arab
world feminism issues such as female stereotyping, bias in the recruitment and selection
practices, and limited female role models. The Arab region ranks lowest globally regarding
women’s participation in national economies. As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC), Saudi Arabia employment opportunities are seldom since the economy relies heavily on
foreign labor force (Almunajjed 9). Nonetheless, the country has diversified its economy in
recent times. Encouraging female labor force, which is currently less than 10%, can leverage
economic diversification.
The recent developments reveal a changing scenario that sees women participation in
employment rising from approximately 5.4 % to 14.4 %. The women’s labor force includes those
actively involved in teaching and nursing jobs. Although this statistic shows an improvement, it
is still amongst the lowest levels of female labor participation among the GCC countries.
Alselaimi and Lord (16) note that the rate of women’s labor force participation is highest in the
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United Arab Emirates (59%) followed by Kuwait (42.9 %), and Qatar (36.4%). The authors
reveal that 90% of the Saudi women in the workforce have attained secondary education or
university degree (Almunajjed 10). The Saudi laws and regulations guarantee women the rights
to work in an appropriate environment, where they should integrate with men without
harassment. In fact, the increasing female education in Saudi Arabia sounds like a significant
impetus for labor participation. However, that is not the case (Almunajjed 12). The notion of
sexual segregation is highly prevalent in the Saudi society. In this regard, women in the country
hold work in feminine professions and less renowned positions than men (Asya 57).
Following the Saudization process, the ministry of labor pointed out relevant job opportunities
that have less patriarchal influence including reception, nutrition, photography, beauty, catering,
and hospitality, tailoring, and the recreation industry. Hence, women can thrive well. Moreover,
Almunajjed (12) maintains that women have engaged in business investments, and enterprises,
which are both wholesale and retail. Also, the banking sector and service industries have
witnessed increased women involvement (Almunajjed 12). Recent research shows that women
own more than 12 percent of firms. Nevertheless, Gaddis, Isis, and Stephan Klasen (677) argue
that women must seek the permission of male guardians before entering into business. This
regulation was overturned recently as an initiative to empower women although its
implementation is lagging (Almunajjed 12).
Asya (57) says that social, legal, educational, and occupational factors present an enormous
challenge to the government’s efforts to promote women involvement in the labor market. There
is a growing debate on the role of women in the Islamic world. The patriarchal society of Saudi
Arabia is hesitant to embrace changes that negatively impact on the strongly held family
traditions (Elborgh-Woytek et al. 31). The integration of women and men in labor force seems to
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contradict the societal view of the Saudi’s traditions and beliefs. As such, the debate over women
involvement in the national labor force faces hostile and skeptical views (Almunajjed 13). Also,
women working in male-dominated environments are likely to experience stigmatization.
It is worth noting that balancing profession and family is a primary concern among the Saudi’s
women. There are legal procedures regarding the rights of women employees in Saudi Arabia.
However, Almunajjed (12) observes that these regulatory legislations exist in theory. Their
implementation remains limited. This phenomenon creates room for minimal gender integration
and the prevalence of feminism in the country. Furthermore, Elborgh-Woytek et al. (23) assert
the education system does not match the Saudi’s labor market. Research indicates that functional
constraints present a major hurdle to women participation in the workforce (Alselaimi and Lord
6). Occupational segregation prevails in Saudi Arabia, where women carry out traditional
feminine roles. Men receive more favors from the job market than women.
Alselaimi and Lord (11) suggest that the Saudi labor market lacks up-to-date gender-specific
statistical data on the role of Saudi women in the national economy. As such, statistical
techniques, indicators, definitions, methodologies, processes, and concepts regarding women
education and work require further development. Gaddis, Isis, and Stephan (670) argue that lack
of complete socio-demographic and employment data on women slows down socioeconomic
planning and proactive labor market policies (Linda 175). Despite the fact that Saudi women
continue to embrace change and modernization, the social, legal, occupational, and educational
limitations prevent the participation of women in the national economy.
Women education and active involvement in the national labor market boosts economic growth.
The KSA has been a patriarchal society for many years. Nevertheless, recent research shows that
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the educational attainment of women has improved markedly since the 1970s. In fact, more
women than men graduate every year. Statistical analysis shows that female education has grown
by more than 10%. However, a rich body of research indicates that despite the growing numbers
of women graduating from secondary and universities, gender integration remains an uphill in
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Gender segregation, regulatory legislations, and stereotyping of
female workers are still prevalent in the labor market. The national economy of Saudi Arabia
will benefit from gender integration as the country seeks to diversify its economy.
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Works Cited
Abdallah M. Elamin Katlin Omar. "Males' attitudes towards working females in Saudi Arabia,"
Personnel Review, 39.6 (2010): 746 766. Print.
Almunajjed, Mona. "Women’s employment in Saudi Arabia: A major challenge."Booz &
CO (2010): 2-13. Print.
Alselaimi, Raneem, and Lord, Linley. 2012. Female Participation in the Saudi Workforce: A
Saudi Perspective of Key Barriers, in Pillai, R., and Ozbilgin, M. and Harley, B. and
Hartel, C. (ed), Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference,
Perth, Australia: ANZAM. (2012): 1-17. Print.
Asya Al-Lamy. "Feminizing leadership in Arab societies: the perspectives of Omani female
leaders," Women in Management Review, 22.1 (2007):49 67. Print.
Elborgh-Woytek, Ms. Katrin, et al. Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains
from Gender Equity. International Monetary Fund, (2013): 2-32. Print.
Gaddis, Isis, and Stephan Klasen. "Economic Development, Structural Change, And Women's
Labor Force Participation:" Journal of Population Economics 27.3 (2014): 639-681.
Linda Brannon “Gender Stereotypes: Masculinity and Femininity” The Stereotype Trap
Newsweek, (2000): 169-185. Print.

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