The primary significance of this research is to examine the perceptions of working women whose chosen career is within an established academic institution, set within Saudi Arabian culture, a culture, which is deemed to place an unequal status on men, and women. It seeks to find out if there is enough of a sense of equality in the workplace for women to feel that they have a growing role in the workplace, and that they can feel part of an increasing contribution by working and professional females to the economic and social development of Saudi Arabia . As noted by Seierstad and Kirton (2015), there are countries where women enjoy equal opportunities to men, and these nations are often among the most economically and socially developed in the world. In the case of Saudi Arabia, women also represent a growing source of skill and competence for the national workforce, and thus their participation will continue to be of key importance in aiding the country to continue to develop and grow, beyond the constraints of the oil industry, as has already occurred in the UAE (Al Rashedi et al, 2015).
Academics are, by their very profession, people who can emotionally detach from a charged debate and objectively analyse an issue from all sides. Female academics then form a special group in terms of working women. They are “of” the problem and “in” the problem but they are also removed from the problem in their ability to cognitively perceive an idea from all perspectives, to weigh evidence, to consider multiple factors, to study patterns, and generally to structure their world according to their own sets of intellectual and social beliefs. Female academics are a group who would have few barriers to the process of articulating and recounting their experiences, and as academics should show little tendency to reticence when offering a personal opinion in a research setting.
It may be that female academic staff have had no cushioning from the effects of gender inequality on their careers, and indeed might perceive their careers to have been hampered and limited by gender-linked laws and religious attitudes towards women in Saudi Arabian society. If this is the case then the perceptions of these female academics may well be a barometer for the experiences of females in other workplace institutions, for example hospitals and health care settings, trade sectors and businesses throughout Saudi Arabia.
Research of the saudi women - work and health