Women Leadership in Higher Education in Saudi Arabia
Personal barriers such as lack of motivation, confidence work life balance etc. are often cited as barriers to women leadership. One of the key millennium development goals is reducing gender inequality in the society highlighting that the issue persists decades after acknowledgment of this being critical for overall human development. The state is more concerning in countries like Saudi Arabia where such issues have been left untreated due to socio-cultural pressures. As a result, these countries have legged significantly in human resource development. Overcoming this challenge requires countries to review the barriers that might be causing the problem. Saudi government has introduced several reforms within last one decade towards women empowerment such as the 2030 vision. These reforms may have improved the participation of women in workforce but have had limited impact on rise of women to leadership positions in Saudi Arabia. Past research have placed great emphasis on personal barriers such aspoor work life balance, familial responsibilities, lack of confidence etc. posing significant barriers to rise of women in leadership positions. This research looks at how these personal barriers have been influenced by the reforms undertaken by the Saudi government and what additional measures can be undertaken to overcome these personal barriers. Data for this research was collected using semi structured interviews with Saudi women working in Saudi higher education institutions. Data was thematically analysed. Results indicate that Saudi women have faced a number of personal barriers in rising to leadership positions with lack of motivation and opportunities as well as poor work life balance opportunities being the most critical of these barriers.
Keywords (JEL codes) - Higher Education, Teachers, Education and Gender, Education and Inequality, personal barriers, Gender Discrimination, Women.