Women educators facing ‘numerous’ challenges in Saudi Arabia

Women’s sections at universities in the Kingdom have organizational, social, personal and financial challenges, insiders say.

Women’s sections at universities in the Kingdom have organizational, social, personal and financial challenges as well as a struggle to find qualified staff, according to a female dean at Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz University.

Azizah al-Ruwais, dean of the university’s preparatory year, said women’s sections are challenged organizationally because female employees do not occupy high decision making positions in committees and administrative councils, Al-Watan newspaper reported.

Presenting her study, titled “Reality and Aspirations,” on the third day of the Public Administrative Leaderships Conference in Riyadh at the Institute of Public Administration, she said: “They also have limited authority and are not involved in the strategic planning of the institutes, not to mention the poor communication between the male and female sections.”

With regard to social challenges, she claimed society does not yet accept women in leadership positions and does not trust them.

“Society still does not accept women having meetings after hours,” she said. The personal challenges women’s sections face include women not having much faith in themselves in a patriarchal society, she told the conference.

“They also face challenges in balancing work and family as well as coping with her biological nature.”

The fourth set of challenges is financial as there are not enough equipment in the women’s section facilities, she said.

“Moreover, the women’s sections are allocated lower budgets than their male counterparts and the attention and care of the institute is directed toward the men’s sections as they are at the forefront.”

The last set of challenges has to do with qualifications, she said. “There is a shortage of qualified administrators in the women’s section and a lack of awareness of the institutes’ charters and regulations.

“As a result, there aren’t any training programs to generate more qualified women.”

Al-Ruwais said the Ministry of Higher Education needed to phrase its regulations in a way that ensured equal administrative rights to men and women.

Presenting a paper at the conference, Haila Al-Fayez, assistant professor of administration and educational planning at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, claimed that women empowerment at an administrative level at King Saud University and Imam University was “average”.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 8, 2014.
 

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