Women, Education and Employment in Saudi Arabia: an Example of Multiple Modernities
This paper uses official statistics and previous research by Saudi scholars, but mainly our own evidence from 23 interviews during 2015 and 2016 with 25-35-year-old males and females, to explain why modernisation is Saudi Arabia, which includes the diversification of its economy and a huge expansion in higher education for males and females, is unlikely to lead to a higher proportion of women in the workforce. This is because the total number of jobs in the country is unlikely to increase, and opportunities for women are likely to remain limited not only by employers’ hiring preferences and practices but also by the limited range of jobs that young women and their families consider acceptable. Thus rather than following the same modernizing path as Western societies, Saudi Arabia will add to the examples of multiple modernities.
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