This study sets out to analyse the reality of Saudi women's employment in the
private sector. There are significant numbers of unemployed qualified Saudi women
and the latest Saudi Government Development Plan (2000-2004) expects the private
sector to provide the majority of jobs. The starting point is the question; is the high
level of unemployed qualified Saudi women due to the educational system, the
attitudes of women to employment, the attitudes of managers to employing women or
the attitudes of society in general.
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country by nature and by law and so the research
has to develop within the framework of Islamic thinking on the employment of
women using Iran as a benchmark.
Empirical evidence has been collected from Saudi business managers,
qualified women employees in the private sector, unemployed qualified women and
certain authorities. This revealed agreement between the various groups over the
importance of most factors. The attitude of society was not seen as a problem in that
society had a positive view of women in employment. The attitudes of unemployed
women were very similar to those of employed women in the sample. This suggests
that unemployed women are not unemployed due to their negative attitudes to
employment. In fact they were more concerned about the lack of access to job market
Women in the sample were not concerned about remuneration since they were
financially secure within the family, but did want more part-time jobs, more childcare
and in particular transport arrangements to allow them to go further from home to
where the jobs are without infringing Islamic Sharia'a.
Saudi respondents were more critical of the education system than those in
Iran this is not surprising given the higher proportions of women in Iran in the
educational system. The Saudi respondents all commented on the need for more
breadth of studies, more depth of studies and more applicability of women's skills to
The study recommends that changes are needed in all these factors and using
Iran as a benchmark suggests that improvement is possible without major changes.
The study suggests further research concentrating on the concept of nontraditional
jobs for women in more regions in Saudi Arabia.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.