Study outlines hurdles facing Saudi women job seekers

Study identified personal, social, institutional and organizational obstacles to Saudi women accepting jobs

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A new study conducted by Ghada Bint Abdulrahman Al-Turaif, an associate professor of sociology, has identified the main obstacles preventing Saudi women from joining the Kingdom’s labor market, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

Financed by the Deanship of Scientific Research at Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University, the study was titled “Obstacles Preventing Saudi Women from Accepting Jobs in the Labor Market.”

The study identified several personal, social, institutional and organizational obstacles that prevent Saudi women from accepting jobs. It also showed that the majority of unemployed Saudi women are university graduates.

The study was carried out in the form of a questionnaire, which was handed to a random sample of unemployed Saudi women who had submitted applications to collect unemployment benefits from the Human Resources Development Fund’s Hafiz program.

The sample comprised 600 unemployed women between the ages of 22 and 30.

According to the results, personal obstacles include a general lack of awareness of the role of women in economic development (57.9 percent), psychological pressures faced by women to work in non-traditional jobs (56.2 percent) and an inability to decide to accept certain job offers (55.9 percent). The study also showed that customs and traditions prevent women from accepting many jobs (69.5 percent).

Other obstacles identified in the study include family disapproval of jobs in which there is mingling between men and women (68 percent) and long work hours (68.3 percent).

Economic obstacles that hinder women’s participation in the labor market include the low salary levels in the private sector compared to the government sector (74.1 percent), competition by expatriate workers in the labor market due to their willingness to accept low salaries (73.2 percent), unsuitability of the salary offered (71.2 percent) and a lack of financial incentives (64.8 percent).

More than 63 percent of respondents said administrative and regulatory issues further complicate job searches, 59.7 percent said there is a lack of suitable vocational guidance and 59.7 percent said sufficient information on the needs of the labor market is unavailable.

The study recommended that the government and private sectors work together to remove some of the obstacles that prevent women from joining the labor market.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on May 26, 2014.