Factors affecting the underutilisation of qualified Saudi women in the Saudi private sector
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 information. 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 employment needs. 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.