Nothing drives Saudi women to leadership roles more than their passion, focus and sheer determination. Their passion is not just about their career path but is brought to stand in other parts of their life, including the desire to encourage the next generation of women to strive for success. Saudi female’s leaders who have succeeded as the result of a combination of education and characteristics they were born with, which have given them a competitive edge, and the skills they have acquired. These women have achieved leadership roles despite the cultural, social and political hurdles they sometimes had to surmount in their career, making them exceptional role models. Not only that but they have attracted the attention of international observers by becoming pioneers in a variety of fields, most prominently science and entrepreneurship. In spite of all of this achievements, the percentage of Saudi women holding senior legislative and managing roles within the Kingdom doesn’t exceed 7%, as a percentage of total available positions. In terms of gender diversity within the Boardroom, the same source reports a 0.1% proportion of female seats held by women. Whilst there is a shortage of research on Saudi women in leadership role in general, very few reports have so far examined the extent of women’s representation in top leadership positions particularly in science and entrepreneurship. Based on these few statistical reports and some insights from the different literature sources, the presentation will discuss and shed some lights on institutional and social challenges that Saudi women, in their quest to gain leadership positions, they usually encounter. Three major question will be addressed:
What are the different factors that are contributing to the under-representation of women leaders in Saudi Arabia?
How can we provide Saudi women with more opportunities to reach leadership positions?
How can we equip Saudi women with the necessary skill sets to successfully lead in science and entrepreneurship?
Dr. Haifa Jamal Al-Lail is the President of Effat University, Jeddah Saudi Arabia. She was awarded a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Southern California. Before joining Effat University in 1998, she served as the first Dean of Girls' Campus in King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. Dr. Haifa is a distinguished leader, respected academic, renowned advocate of youth engagement, and author of several articles; having also delivered many keynote speeches on women's education in the Middle East, women and change, entrepreneurship and business. Dr. Haifa is a winner of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She is also the recipient of many awards such as the Innovation Award, Saudi Sayidaty, Queen Effat's Distinction Award, Leading Woman CEO, Distinguished Arab Woman Award, World Family Summit Award, and the Distinguished Arabian Woman Award. Dr. Haifa continues to work towards enhancing women's education throughout Saudi Arabia.