Assessing Engineering Disciplines with Expected Success for Females in Saudi Arabia

Conference Paper
El-Sherbeeny, Ahmed M. . 2018
Publication Work Type: 
Conference Proceedings
Tags: 
education, engineering, females, Saudi Arabia, STEM
Conference Name: 
2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Conference Location: 
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Conference Date: 
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sponsoring Organization: 
ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education)
Publication Abstract: 

Background. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has witnessed over the last few years a number of strategic developments in the higher education sector, particularly with the establishment of around a dozen new public universities, all seeking to be leading institutions in this educationally developing country. There have also lately been a number of official, strategic decisions pushing towards the equality of both males and females in different higher education disciplines. This has, incidentally, encouraged and invited the female sector to thrive towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education opportunities, particularly since engineering disciplines are currently almost solely offered to males nationwide. 
Purpose. This paper extends a previous study highlighting the importance of introducing engineering education for females in the KSA. The paper examines engineering disciplines where females are most expected to succeed from academic and career perspectives.
Approach. First, the authors compare the presence and numbers of females in engineering education from an international and regional perspective for different engineering disciplines. This is then used to predict a list of engineering disciplines where Saudi females as expected to succeed, as well as discussing expected job market opportunities. Such is analyzed in view of the essential cultural and religious demands and constraints imposed by the deeply conservative Saudi society. In addition, the authors show the suitability of such disciplines in consideration of the superiority of female performance in pre-collegiate (K-12 grade) STEM education in the KSA. 
Discussion. The study substantiates that the Saudi culture is currently ready to accept the integration of females into STEM and particularly engineering education. Saudi girls are also shown indeed capable of competing with their male counterparts in engineering education in Saudi Arabia, as well as females in neighboring gulf and Middle-Eastern countries. Females are, furthermore, shown as very capable of entering and competing in the job market as effective engineers. 
Conclusion and Recommendations. In view of the challenging Saudi climate and various cultural and religious demands, Saudi females are most likely expected to succeed in engineering disciplines that do not require field-involvement and mixing of genders. However, a systematic, gradual approach is necessary for the successful implementation of such programs. Future recommendations are proposed involving a practical application of this study in the form of a nationally-funded project.