Gender Segregation at Colleges Limits Women’s Access to the Job Market

Writing in Arab News, columnist Mohammed al-Saif implicitly calls on the government to end gender segregation in higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia:

It is no secret that gender segregation in education has been the status quo in Saudi Arabia since public education for females was officially introduced in the early 1960’s. Interestingly, the Kingdom is the only Muslim country in the world that still does not have coed schooling in all education levels, from primary school to university.

However, it could become the logically subsequent phase to the current mixed-gender working environment, and this could represent a new social challenge to its mostly conservative society.

Although recent statistics show that women constitute 58 percent of higher education graduates in Saudi Arabia, their educational background still does not guarantee them a job after graduation.

The current education structure limits women’s access to the labor market through restrictions on certain areas of study and access to a wider scope of jobs, such as engineering, media, and architecture. In addition to that, it is costing the country double the budget as it is paying twice for education facilities Kingdomwide.

It is worth noting, however, that the gender mixing at the workplace is still facing a staunch resistance by the conservatives who recently forced the Labor Ministry to erect walls to segregate men from women at retail stores.