More than half (52%) of women in Saudi Arabia believe the perception that they are not equipped with the necessary skill sets to join the workforce in the Kingdom is the biggest myth hindering their success and employment, according to a new research from LinkedIn.
On an optimistic note though, more than 60% of Saudi women and recruiters agree there is great progress and efforts in the Kingdom towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision to increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30% by 2030.
The research is part of LinkedIn’s ‘Hear It From Me’ (Esmaaha Menni) campaign which encourages women in Saudi to showcase their skills and build their professional brand on the platform in order to be found and hired for key roles across Saudi companies, fulfilling the country’s 2030 Strategy goals.
According to the research, 52% recruiters believe that gender equality leads to higher productivity while 40% believe the key benefit of hiring men and women equally is that it advances a creative culture, indicating a willingness to provide more opportunities for women. However, while they are ready to join the workforce, 37% of Saudi women believe employers still need to do more to hire them in key roles and more than a third (38%) find that the hardest thing about getting a job in Saudi Arabia is finding the right opportunity to match their expectations.
LinkedIn’s insights show that more than 63% of Saudi women members have indicated completing Bachelor’s Degrees, exceeding other developed countries, such as the United States which comes at 57%. On the other hand, over 17% have completed a Master’s Degree.
The top three fields of study for women in Saudi are business management and administration, followed by computer science and health science.
There are currently various efforts from companies and entities in the Kingdom to support gender diversity. Amongst which comes Takamol, the government company and partner of Ministry of Labour and social development in Saudi Arabia and which directly supports women’s employment in the kingdom.
Dr. Ahmad Al-Yamani, CEO of Takamol said: “Since the establishment of Takamol Holding, the employment of women and increasing their participation in the workforce has been a crucial priority and one of the reasons behind the success of the firm’s initiatives and projects. In fact, women make up 33% of the total number of employees at Takamol. In line with the Saudi Vision 2030 which aims to increase women’s participation in the workforce, Takamol Holding launched several programmes to empower women in the Saudi workforce including Wusool, Qurrah, Tojjar which is an electronic platform and Bahr.”
Recently, Dr Hayat Sindi became one of the first female members to join the consultative assembly of Saudi Arabia. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General as well as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Prof Dr Sindi said: “Indeed, a lot is being done in Saudi Arabia to empower women. Over the coming few years, it is crucial that we continue to take positive actions to increase women’s role in major industries such as science and technology. This can be achieved through making careers in these industries more accessible and attractive to women.
“We also need to continue extending our support to more women professionals to help transform them into leaders in their respective fields through providing the courses and education needed. This will help unleash women’s potential faster and would be a win for society."
Reem Mohamed, head of Public Sector for KSA at LinkedIn said: “As LinkedIn, our main mission is to connect everyone in the global workforce with economic opportunity.
“Today we have around 4,500 job opportunities available in Saudi Arabia on LinkedIn and so we are encouraging professionals to use our platform to build their professional brand and as a result become more visible to potential employers and recruiters.”
She added: “In this new era, creating a skilled and balanced workforce can only be achieved through collaborative actions from both sides. LinkedIn's role is to bridge the gap between employers and professionals by providing a platform where these two audiences can easily find and connect with each other. ”