Women, Education and Employment in Saudi Arabia: an Example of Multiple Modernities


  • Talha Fadaak
  • Ken Roberts University of Liverpool




education, employment, gender, late development, modernisation, Saudi Arabia


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.

Author Biographies

Talha Fadaak

Assistant Professor of Sociology at Umm al-Qura University, Jeddah. She graduated with a PhD from the University of Liverpool in 2011 with a thesis on Social Policies for the Eradication of Poverty among Female-Headed Households in Saudi Society. Her major research areas are poverty, social policy and development, and sociology of youth. She has published in English and Arabic language. Her book on Female Poverty in Saudi Arabia was published in 2012. In 2014 Dr Fadaak participated in a regional project that investigated social risks in Gulf Cooperation Countries. In 2015 she was the main coordinator for a project for Hail University that investigated Saudi women who are involved in social networks for preaching and other religious proposes. During 2015 and 2016 Dr Fadaak was visiting research fellow at Liverpool University.

Ken Roberts, University of Liverpool

Professor of Sociology. His major research areas are the sociology of leisure and the sociology of young people’s life stage transitions. Since 1991 he has coordinated a series of research projects in East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. These have investigated how various social groups’ circumstances have changed during the political and economic transformations of their countries. His current research is into young people in south and east Mediterranean countries during and since the Arab Spring of 2011. Professor Roberts’ books include Surviving Post-Communism: Young People in the Former Soviet Union (2000), Youth in Eastern Europe and in the West (2009), Class in Contemporary Britain (2011), Sociology: An Introduction (2012), The Business of Leisure (2016), and Social Theory, Sport, Leisure (2016).


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How to Cite

Fadaak, T., & Roberts, K. (2016). Women, Education and Employment in Saudi Arabia: an Example of Multiple Modernities. Filosofiya Osvity. Philosophy of Education, 18(1), 72–93. https://doi.org/10.31874/2309-1606-2016-18-1-72-93






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