This section of the work presents a more detailed outline and analysis of the barriers to women in the Saudi workforce, and particular the barriers to equal opportunities in the workforce. The topic area thus encompasses a range of factors including social and cultural barriers as well as policy and gendered conceptualisations of the workplace. The section thus identifies a wide array of barriers, including embedded social and cultural values, gendered institutions, and the role of the family, as well as specific barriers to female entrepreneurs. The core argument in this section is thus that these major barriers are preventing women enjoying equal opportunities, and this situation will persist under said barriers are removed or lowered. Until this occurs, women will have either to accept a lower rate of access to employment and promotion activities, or look outside the traditional workforce including working as entrepreneurs and founding their own businesses.
The analysis of the role of women in the workforce in Saudi Arabia indicates that large amounts of progress has been made, but women still tend to face notable barriers to equal opportunities in the workforce. These include embedded social and cultural values, particularly amongst older individuals who occupy many of the senior management positions in Saudi companies. These individuals have been shown to demonstrate a “strong desire to maintain the traditional Saudi culture, which restricts the travel and interaction of females” and hinders their ability to work (Al-Kahtani et al, 2005, p. 227). These embedded views and beliefs run contrary to the focus of Saudi Arabia on boosting levels of national employment, and harnessing the value of women in order to help create more skilled private sector jobs. According to a series of interviews with Saudi policymakers, "while incumbent labour nationalization policies have led to marginal increases in female participation rates, more systemic labour market reforms will be needed in order to better capitalize on the 'valuable human resource asset' that they represent" (Rutledge et al, 2011, p. 183). This indicates that further reforms to the labour market are necessary to help women to achieve equal opportunities in the face of cultural barriers.
Women health and work related problems