There is also further evidence from the literature around some of the prevailing barriers that are linked to the cultural images of women, as well as their cultural treatment. This is a prevalent thread in the literature on Saudi Arabia, with Al-Qudsi (1998, p. 931) using an econometric model to demonstrate the role of fertility amongst Arab women, and the negative influence of fertility on women's labour participation. This thus reflects traditional views that women of childbearing age should be bearing children rather than working, which flies in the face of the equal opportunities doctrines in most modern nations. Whilst this study is dated, further studies have demonstrated the ongoing desire on the part of Saudi society to emphasise the individual nature of women, and respect their rights, but to do so in a way, which is still aligned with traditional cultural values and images around the role and status of women (Sobh et al, 2012; Al-Mutawa, 2013).
Another primary barrier to equal opportunities in Saudi Arabia is the gendered nature of certain institutions in the country. This includes the country's national human resource development (HRD) systems. As noted by Metcalfe (2011), Saudi Arabia has targeted HRD systems as a way to improve the ability of women to contribute to the workforce. However, these systems remain strongly influenced by gendered images, and thus create their own barriers to female participation. This makes it difficult for women to access the training and interventions they need to ensure they are able to access all opportunities available in the workforce. Other barriers are more subtle, and occur in the gendered nature of many workplaces. For example, Hutchings et al (2010, p. 61) reported "the findings of a survey of 97 middle- and senior-level female managers in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, seeking to elucidate the factors which Arab Middle Eastern view as barriers to, or facilitators of, international management opportunities". This study demonstrated that Arab women faced more barriers to international assignments than those in Western nations, even when they did not face overly significant barriers to advancement within their own business. This thus reflects a form of “glass ceiling” for Saudi women, who may be able to advance to leadership roles, but are prevented from gaining valuable international experience which can help them advance further.
In addition to this, barriers to women in the workplace continue to exist outside of the social and employment spheres, being manifest in the role of women in the family. Specifically, Saudi Arabia Country Review (2013) notes that women often suffer from domestic and spousal abuse, which is an area in which the law and social system has been slow to provide support to women. In such a situation, a man is often regarded to have the right to command his wife and daughters, and thus can act to prevent them from taking on employment opportunities if he does not wish them to. This issue is also linked to the large number of family owned businesses in Saudi Arabia. According to Dahlan and Klieb (2011), the male head of the house is often treated as the de facto owner of a family business even if the female family members do most of the work, and the business is often passed on through the male line. This limits the ability of women to achieve management positions in family owned businesses, even if they manage much of the business.
The final important area to consider is to role of women as entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia. According to an empirical survey by Ahmad (2011, p. 1252), "Saudi female entrepreneurs are self-confidant, educated, optimistic and resourceful" however "they are faced with many obstacles in relation to the regulation environment, limited access to formal financing and the need for adopting advanced marketing and technology needs for their business operations and support services". This thus indicates that Saudi female entrepreneurs face many barriers to starting the maintaining their own business, something which is also supported by Danish and Smith (2012), who note that female entrepreneurs continue to face societal and institutional challenges in Saudi Arabia. However, Danish and Smith (2012) also note that efforts are ongoing to overcome these barriers, and ensure women have equal opportunities to men when looking to start their own business, including equal access to resources, training and mentoring.