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Women and Science: The Regional Perspective


Jeddah, Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia ... The first university in Saudi Arabia (KSA) was established in 1957. Saudi women were admitted to formal university studies ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Women and Science: The Regional Perspective

Women and Science The Regional Perspective
Professor Samira Ibrahim Islam Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology Head Drug Monitoring
Unit King Fahd Medical Research Centre King Abdu
laziz University Jeddah, Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia
International Conference on Women Leaders in S
cience, Technology and Engineering
January 8-10, 2007 Kuwait
Many thanks to Kuwait Institute for Scientific
Research (KISR), and to all the authorities
behind this event for inviting me to present
document the progress and opportunities of Arab
women The King Abdulaziz University King Fah
ad Medical Research Centre for their Support
And All, who in one way or another helped during
the making of this presentation.
Please Note
  • Having extensive geographic area and a population
    of 321 million, the Arab world cannot be viewed
    as a single monolithic community in term of
    endowment or human development.
  • It consists of 22 Arab countries, 50 of the
    population are below age 15.
  • At certain points one or more countries are
    selected as representatives or used as examples.

  • Some names/projects maybe mentioned for
    demonstration, this does not imply that others,
    which maybe even more important, do not exist.
  • Unless specified, the term science is
    generally used to express all scientifically and
    technically based disciplines.

Presentation Objectives
  • To bring to the attention of the authorities
    concerned with human resource development,
    decision makers, industry, media and public in
  • The potential capabilities of Arab women in
    various fields
  • The high level of commitment which Arab women in
    Science have demonstrated, which qualify them to
    take leading roles in the advancement of RD.
  • The Steps which have already been taken to
    encourage more girls to enter Science and further
    steps needed to empower them.

The Status of Women in the Arab Region
  • In no region in the world do women have equal
    rights to men (economic, social or legal)
  • Status of women in the Region differs from
    country to country but commonly controlled by the
    Sharia Law (except Tunisia)
  • Currently 17 out of 22 Arab nations ratified the
  • Defined by factors such as
  • Fertility rate 3.8 live birth (world average is
  • Education (Illiteracy rate decreased to around
    40 22
  • Involvement in the labor force - 33 (world
    average is 56) 22
  • Political Participation Average Arab women in
    parliament in Arab Region was 6.9 22

University Education
  • Indicators show that tertiary education
    represents 25 of the eligible population, which
    is high compared with gender balance in higher
  • In Egypt women have attended university since the
  • More women than men are registered for higher
    education in the Gulf States 4

Science Education
  • Arab women have not been discouraged from
    studying science
  • Statistics show that Arab women Science graduates
    form a high percentage of the total science
    graduate population

In 2002-2003, U.S. Japan fall behind 3 Arab
countries in the percentage of women graduating
in Science to the total science graduate
population. Morocco exceeds the U.S. and Japan in
the ratio of women Engineering graduates as a
percentage of the total engineering graduates20
Source UNESCO Institute of Statistics 2005
of women in Science disciplines to total
students in some Arab universities in 2001-2002

A Enrolled

B Graduates
Gender Statistics Program modified from ESCWA
Social Statistics Datasets, 2005
Careers in ST for Arab Women
  • In principle there are equal opportunities for
    either gender in Arab States but social
    perception determines which type of employment is
  • Opportunities for women are not limited to
    teachers, doctors and nurses.
  • Female scientists excel in teaching, health and
  • Although there is an increasing pool of highly
    qualified women scientists in some Arab
    countries, few hold high ranking positions in
    science institutions.
  • More women work in the education sector than the
    health sector.

Professional opportunities
  • In Arab Countries, career opportunities for
    female science graduates are considerably more
    limited than those for men. Egyptian and Saudi
    women constitute
  • 40 of the faculty in Pharmacy and Dentistry
  • 25 of the faculty in Natural science
  • less than 10 in engineering technology
  • Patterns are similar to those seen in some U.S.
    universities, where women constitute
  • 50 of health sciences faculty
  • 23.8 of biological sciences faculty
  • 6.1 of engineering faculty

Research in the Arab Region
Institutions that focus on research and knowledge
development include Higher education institutes
and their affiliated research centres
Freestanding specialized centres of scientific
research Research and development units links to
industry Based on the number of scientific publi
cation per million people, Arab countries fall
within the advanced group of developing
countries. The number of papers published in spec
ialized global journals increased from 465 papers
in 1967 to 7000 in 1995 (10 per annum) 22
22 ? Arab Human Development Report 2003
ResearchersArab Region VS other countries
Research Funds
  • National institutes providing research grants
  • Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of
    Sciences. (KFAS)
  • Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR),
  • The National Board for Scientific Research (NBSR)
    in Libya.
  • King Abdulaziz City for Science Technology
    (KACST) in Saudi Arabia

Womens share of the total number of researchers
(headcount) in some Arab countries
Women remain under-represented in the scientific
research and those in the field receive less
support and fewer promotion than their male
KACST funded research till 2006
  • To encourage young women researchers,
    intergovernmental institutions and private
    sectors are working together to
  • Enhance development of women in the region
  • Encourage the advancement of knowledge to women
  • Joint projects to support women in Science

Source UNESCO Institute of Statistics, May 2006
The Saudi Arabian Experience
  • Formal schooling for girls started in 1960
  • The first university in Saudi Arabia (KSA) was
    established in 1957
  • Saudi women were admitted to formal university
    studies in 1973 4
  • Presently there are 11 major universities in KSA
    that teach Scientific disciplines, 6 admits women
    i.e. -

In the year 2004/05, 19375 graduated in Science
discipline, 8662 were women (44.7)
  • Postgraduate degrees
  • Granted by Saudi Universities
  • Graduates in Science subjects (1999-2000 )
  • 372 M.Sc. 39 were women.
  • 52 Ph.D. 79 were women
  • Joint Supervision Programs (JSP)
  • A successful example of international academic
  • Women enrolled in the participating UK
    universities while working and supervised by the
    Saudi Staff at their labs at KAAU
  • A total of 34 women gained Ph.D. through the JSP,
    68 in the Science disciplines.
  • Advantages
  • Ph.D. from a UK university/ies
  • Allow the students and her family to remain in
  • Facilitates the transfer of new techniques and
    technology to KSA
  • International academic interaction
  • Opens up access of under research regions to the
    UK faculties

Saudi Government staff promoted in the year 2002
Saudi women constitute 18 of the total Saudi
workforce However Saudi women are restricted in
achieving key positions such as the 12 13th.
government ranks, yet their contribution, if not
equal is even more than their male counterpart
Number of staff
Position Ranks
In the year 2003, the total basic science
faculty members in KAAU was 439, 14.2 are women
yet men women students are almost equal
This reveal the the greater burden women faculty
members have to bear
Science as a career in the Arab Region
Why are there so few women Scientists in the
Socio-cultural perceptions of womens ability to
master ST. Reluctance of talented women to intro
duce their own values and visions into a working
world dominated by men Professional success requi
res networking with male colleague which is not
easy for Arab women Opportunities for Arab women
to enter technical fields are far less than men
as parents prefer to spend money to male child
than female Marketing oneself as women in the A
rab world is generally ridiculed
Workplace policies penalize women for fulfilling
their domestic responsibilities
Ongoing Efforts to Encourage Women in ST
  • Individual Support by Powerful Women
  • Queen Rania of Jordan
  • First Lady Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt
  • Sheikha Sabeeka Al Khalifa of Bahrain
  • HH Princess Al Jawhara Bint Bin Ibrahim of Saudi
  • Nursing Award
  • Science Award
  • Established the Center for Molecular Medicine,
    Genetics and Inherited Diseases in Bahrain

  • Local Companies Organization
  • King Khaled Charitable Foundation endow SR1
    million annually to support post-graduate
    research by Saudi women
  • ANWST, sponsored by Al Nahda Society, endow young
    Saudi women scientist scholarship for graduate
    post graduate study abroad 21
  • Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)
  • In 2006, King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz
    International Prize for the promotion of
    Scientific Research
  • 45 recipients, 9(20) are women
  • Al Marai Prize for Scientific Excellence
  • Open to both men women.
  • In 2005, Established a category exclusively for
    women researchers.
  • 34 recipients, 4 (11.76) are women

  • UNESCO LOreal Joint Support
  • For Women in Science Award
  • Out of the 42 female laureates, 4 (9.52) are
    Arabs. 12
  • UNESCO LOreal Fellowship (2000-2006)
  • Grants for young women scientist to pursue their
    research in Laboratories outside their country of
  • There were 130 young women grantees from 20
    countries, 21 (16.15) are Arabs. 12

  • Multinational companies
  • Most countries in the Arab region adapted gender
    diversity in most business entities in either
    government or private sector
  • Schlumberger
  • Operates in 80 countries, employing 80,000 of 140
  • In 2003 the women employee were
  • 15 research scientist, field engineers and
  • 9 operation and section managers,
  • 4 RD, global directors, 7 executives 18
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Main operation in the KSA and has global overseas
  • In 2005, 2908 were women employee, 40 are

Regional Organizations for Women in Science
  • Saudi Science club, formed womens division to
    support pre-university science students.
  • Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF -
    Sharja, U.A.E.) recently formed the womens
    committee in support of women members.
  • Prominent women scientist representing Arab
    researcher around the globe were nominated to the
    ASTF board of directors
  • Women comprise 8.7 of the total ASTF scientists
    and technologists

International Organizations for Women in Science
  • International organizations whose members are
    mainly women in science
  • Arab Network for Women in Science Technology
    (ANWST), Bahrain
  • International Network of Women Engineers and
    Scientist (INWES)
  • International Organizations that support women
    in science

International Awards
  • Women achievements is internationally being
  • Nobel Prize (1901)
  • Out of the 773 Laureates, 34 are women (4.46)
  • Of these women 12 (35.29) are in science 19
  • King Faisal International Prize(1977)
  • Out of the 161 Laureates, 4 (2.6 ) are women
  • Of these women one is a scientist. 13

Proposed Future Developments for Womens Career
in S T
  • Realizing the education for all principle
  • Overcoming the Language barrier
  • Budget allocation for women activities in R D
  • Science clubs in schools universities are to be
  • Introduction of computers, Internet, educational
    satellite channels and multimedia to promote self
    learning, research discovery in S T
  • Attention should be made to upgrade the
    laboratories to facilitate empirical education
  • Encourage women to continue post graduate
    studies and post doctorate professional
    development programs

  • Encourage women to specialize in ST and lead the
    research teams
  • Participation in scientific conferences and
    meetings within outside the ?region, to
    increase interaction with experts and improve
    their skills and profiles
  • Research centres concerned with womens affair
    should be encouraged and supported
  • Collaborative research between the Arab region
    and countries of the developed world to be
  • To establish information and documentation
    centres to monitor the situation of Arab women in
  • Creating ST professional information system to
    be provided to educational and training
    establishments for networking
  • Employment for women in ST should be balanced
    with educational and training opportunities
  • Marketing and capacity building systems for
    womens research products should be activated

Exemplary Arab Women in Science
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • Islam promotes the importance of education to
    both sexes as the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) ordered
    Seek knowledge from cradle to grave
  • In no region in the world do women have equal
    rights to men (economical, social or legal)
  • Growing number of womens association and
    organizations in the Arab world is a positive
  • Women education in most Arab countries only
    developed during the last 50 years, now the
    number of women graduates in the fields of
    Science is more or less equal to men
  • Although women have the same opportunities as
    men in most fields of science and health
    education, yet there is a limited job
    opportunities for women.

  • The glass ceiling still exist for women
  • What can we do with this workforce of qualified
    Arab Women in Science ? Scientific Research is
    the answer
  • We need collaboration.
  • Collaborative programs such as the joint
    supervision program at KAAU need political
    administrative support and recognition in order
    to succeed.
  • Impact of collaboration between scientists from
    the Arab world and the developed world
  • Arab world would benefit from the transfer of
  • Developed world scientists would gain access to
    under researched region
  • Gender equality will not be achieved by formal
    measures only,
  • it must be conquered.
  • And we as woman scientists should ensure,
  • we are in the fore front of such a movement

  • 1. Forbes Magazine (December 2004), The 50 most
    Powerful Arab Women in Dubai, UAE DIT
  • 2.       ESCWA website www.escwa.org.lb.
  • 3.       Islam, S.I. (2004) Saudi Women
    Achievement in Science.
  • 4.    Islam, S.I. (2004) Saudi Women Their Role
    in Science and Education - Presented to NISTADS
    Conference, New Delhi, India on March 8 -10,
  • 5.       Hassan, Farkhonda Islamic Women in
    science httb//www.sciencemag.org/content/summar
  • 6.       Adnan Badran UNESCO Science Report
  • 7.       United Nations, Where do Arab Women
    Stand in The Development Process? A Gender- Based
    Statistical Analysis Distr LIMETED
  • 8.       The Role of Women in the Modern Arab
    World - Enhancing the Human Resource Development
    of The League of Arab States- by Lema Hamed,
    Ahmed Suliman, October 2003.
  • 9.       Women in the Arab World by H.R.P.
    Princess Basma bint Talal, Geneva, 26 March 1996
  • 10.   Al-Qazzat, Ayad Education of Women in the
    Arab World http//www.library.cornell.edu/colldev

  •   12. LOreal website http//www.loreal.co
  • King Faisal Foundation Public Relation Department
    (n.d.) retrieved February 16, 2005, from
  • Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi
    Arabia www.mohe.gov.ksa
  • Health Statistical Year Book, 1421/ 1422.
    Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia.
  • World Bank Report 2002.
  • UNDP POGAR Programme on governance in the Arab
    Region http//www.pogar.org/themes/gender
  •  Andrew Gould, Chairman CEO Schlumberger Ltd.
    Waking up to the need for women in science
    technology. 2003 from www.slb.com
  • Nobel Prize website httpwww.almaz.com/nobel/alph
  • Corey Habbas, Muslim women in Science
  • www.undp,org/info21/saudi/nahda.htm

Many thanks to Kuwait Institute for Scientific
Research (KISR), and to all the authorities
behind this event for inviting me to present
document the progress and opportunities of Arab
women The King Abdulaziz University King Fah
ad Medical Research Centre for their Support
And All, who in one way or another helped during
the making of this presentation.
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