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Saudi Women and Leadership: Empowering Women as Leaders in Higher Education Institutions

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: Saudi Arabia is perhaps one of the most controversial countries in terms of its very poor overall gender gap performance, although it has, according to Pew Research, the fastest growing female labour force participation rate of all the G20 countries. Although the education sector is by far the largest employer of Saudi women, the low level of representation of women in leadership positions in Higher Education demonstrates the fact that they have not been effectively empowered. Under the 2030 vision that the government recently announced, many reforms have been introduced, which are expected to have a direct impact on the empowerment of women. Therefore, this paper looks at the factors that might be considered as barriers to women rising to leadership positions in Saudi higher education institutions. Qualitative data was used for this study and semi-structured interviews were employed with Saudi males and females working in Saudi higher education institutions. The data was then thematically analysed. Findings showed that there are still many challenges, or rather barriers, to women leadership. It indicates that the main challenges are organisational barriers, cultural barriers and personal barriers. The participants gave suggestions on how comprehensive reforms could be made which would lead to more effective outcomes in lowering barriers to women’s rise to leadership in the country.

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