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Women and Science: The Regional Perspective

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1 Women and Science: The Regional Perspective
Professor Samira Ibrahim Islam Ph.D. Professor of Pharmacology Head Drug Monitoring Unit King Fahd Medical Research Centre King Abdulaziz University Jeddah, Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia International Conference on Women Leaders in Science, Technology and Engineering January 8-10, 2007 Kuwait

2 Acknowledgment Many thanks to:
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), and to all the authorities behind this event for inviting me to present & document the progress and opportunities of Arab women The King Abdulaziz University & King Fahad Medical Research Centre for their Support And All, who in one way or another helped during the making of this presentation.

3 Please Note: Having extensive geographic area and a population of 321 million, the Arab world cannot be viewed as a single monolithic community in term of endowment or human development. It consists of 22 Arab countries, 50% of the population are below age 15. At certain points one or more countries are selected as representatives or used as examples. Some names/projects maybe mentioned for demonstration, this does not imply that others, which maybe even more important, do not exist. Unless specified, the term “science” is generally used to express all scientifically and technically based disciplines.

4 Presentation Objectives
To bring to the attention of the authorities concerned with human resource development, decision makers, industry, media and public in general: The potential capabilities of Arab women in various fields The high level of commitment which Arab women in Science have demonstrated, which qualify them to take leading roles in the advancement of R&D. The Steps which have already been taken to encourage more girls to enter Science and further steps needed to empower them.

5 The Status of Women in the Arab Region
In no region in the world do women have equal rights to men (economic, social or legal) Status of women in the Region differs from country to country but commonly controlled by the Sharia Law (except Tunisia) Currently 17 out of 22 Arab nations ratified the CEDAW Defined by factors such as: Fertility rate 3.8 live birth (world average is 2.7)6 Education (Illiteracy rate decreased to around 40% 22 Involvement in the labor force - 33% (world average is 56%) 22 Political Participation – Average Arab women in parliament in Arab Region was 6.9% 22

6 University Education Indicators show that tertiary education represents 25% of the eligible population, which is high compared with gender balance in higher education In Egypt women have attended university since the 1920’s More women than men are registered for higher education in the Gulf States 4

7 Women Graduates in Science Women Graduates in Engineering
Science Education Arab women have not been discouraged from studying science Statistics show that Arab women Science graduates form a high percentage of the total science graduate population Women Graduates in Science Women Graduates in Engineering Bahrain 74 % Eritrea 4% Lebanon 47 % Morocco 25% Qatar 71 % Compared to: U.S.A 43% U.S.A. 19 % Japan 25 % 13 % In , U.S. & Japan fall behind 3 Arab countries in the percentage of women graduating in Science to the total science graduate population. Morocco exceeds the U.S. and Japan in the ratio of women Engineering graduates as a percentage of the total engineering graduates20 Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics 2005

8 % of women in Science disciplines to total students in some Arab universities in 2001-2002
A: Enrolled % B: Graduates Gender Statistics Program modified from ESCWA Social Statistics Datasets, 2005

9 Careers in S&T for Arab Women
In principle there are equal opportunities for either gender in Arab States but social perception determines which type of employment is “appropriate”. Opportunities for women are not limited to teachers, doctors and nurses. Female scientists excel in teaching, health and research. Although there is an increasing pool of highly qualified women scientists in some Arab countries, few hold high ranking positions in science institutions. More women work in the education sector than the health sector.

10 Professional opportunities
In Arab Countries, career opportunities for female science graduates are considerably more limited than those for men. Egyptian and Saudi women constitute: 40% of the faculty in Pharmacy and Dentistry 25% of the faculty in Natural science less than 10% in engineering & technology Patterns are similar to those seen in some U.S. universities, where women constitute: 50% of health sciences faculty 23.8% of biological sciences faculty 6.1% of engineering faculty

11 Research in the Arab Region
Institutions that focus on research and knowledge development include: Higher education institutes and their affiliated research centres Freestanding specialized centres of scientific research Research and development units links to industry Based on the number of scientific publication per million people, Arab countries fall within the advanced group of developing countries. The number of papers published in specialized global journals increased from 465 papers in 1967 to 7000 in 1995 (10% per annum) 22 22 ِ Arab Human Development Report 2003

12 Researchers Arab Region VS other countries
Full time equivalent (FTE) research scientists and engineer per million population in the Arab Region is far lower than the average of the countries of the world. According to UNESCO’s report in 2003 expenditure on R&D by Arab countries does not exceed 10% of that spent by industrialized countries. FTE researchers per million population

13 GERD per researcher (U$)
Research Funds GERD per researcher (U$) There are relatively few FTE researchers in the Arab region. Even though, because of the low level of spending on R&D, the GERD (General expenditure for R & D) (US$) per researcher is still less than the EU, the USA or even the world average.

14 National institutes providing research grants:
Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. (KFAS) Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), The National Board for Scientific Research (NBSR) in Libya. King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia Women’s share of the total number of researchers (headcount) in some Arab countries Country Year Percentage Jordan 2003 18 % Kuwait 2002 20 % Mauritania Saudi Arabia 17 % Sudan 2004 30 %

15 Average Budget/project (SR)
Women remain under-represented in the scientific research and those in the field receive less support and fewer promotion than their male counterpart. KACST funded research till 2006 Grant category Established Year No. of Projects Average Budget/project (SR) Male Female % of Female National 1981 95 1,422,984 94 1 1.05 Grand 1979 689 810,045 671 18 2.61 Small 1996 370 80,340 337 33 8.9 Graduate Students 1991 840 28,420 464 376 44.76 To encourage young women researchers, intergovernmental institutions and private sectors are working together to: Enhance development of women in the region Encourage the advancement of knowledge to women Joint projects to support women in Science [Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics, May 2006

16 The Saudi Arabian Experience:

17 Students in science discipline (2005/06)
Education Formal schooling for girls started in 1960 The first university in Saudi Arabia (KSA) was established in 1957 Saudi women were admitted to formal university studies in Presently there are 11 major universities in KSA that teach Scientific disciplines, 6 admits women i.e. :- Universities Location Establishment year Students in science discipline (2005/06) % Female To the total enrolled Male Female Umm Al Qura Makkah 1979 5884 2769 32 King Saud Riyadh 1957 21602 6210 22 King Abdulaziz Jeddah 1967 9529 5558 36.8 King Faisal Al Ahsa 1975 4042 2831 41.1 King Khaled Abha 1998 3826 455 10.6 Mohd Bin Saud 1974 702 923 56.8 In the year 2004/05, graduated in Science discipline, 8662 were women (44.7%)

18 Postgraduate degrees Granted by Saudi Universities:
Graduates in Science subjects ( ) 372 M.Sc. 39% were women. 52 Ph.D. 79% were women Joint Supervision Programs (JSP) A successful example of international academic collaboration. Women enrolled in the participating UK universities while working and supervised by the Saudi Staff at their labs at KAAU A total of 34 women gained Ph.D. through the JSP, 68% in the Science disciplines. Advantages: Ph.D. from a UK university/ies Allow the students and her family to remain in KSA Facilitates the transfer of new techniques and technology to KSA International academic interaction Opens up access of under research regions to the UK faculties

19 Saudi Government staff promoted in the year 2002
Employment Saudi women constitute 18% of the total Saudi workforce However Saudi women are restricted in achieving key positions such as the 12 & 13th. government ranks, yet their contribution, if not equal is even more than their male counterpart Saudi Government staff promoted in the year 2002 Number of staff Male Female Position Ranks In the year 2003, the total basic science faculty members in KAAU was 439, 14.2% are women yet men & women students are almost equal This reveal the the greater burden women faculty members have to bear

20 Science as a career in the Arab Region

21 Why are there so few women Scientists in the workforce?
Socio-cultural perceptions of women’s ability to master S&T. Reluctance of talented women to introduce their own values and visions into a working world dominated by men Professional success requires networking with male colleague which is not easy for Arab women Opportunities for Arab women to enter technical fields are far less than men as parents prefer to spend money to male child than female Marketing oneself as “women” in the Arab world is generally ridiculed Workplace policies penalize women for fulfilling their domestic responsibilities

22 Ongoing Efforts to Encourage Women in S&T
Individual Support by Powerful Women Queen Rania of Jordan First Lady Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt Sheikha Sabeeka Al Khalifa of Bahrain HH Princess Al Jawhara Bint Bin Ibrahim of Saudi Arabia Nursing Award Science Award Established the Center for Molecular Medicine, Genetics and Inherited Diseases in Bahrain

23 Local Companies & Organization
King Khaled Charitable Foundation endow SR1 million annually to support post-graduate research by Saudi women ANWST, sponsored by Al Nahda Society, endow young Saudi women scientist scholarship for graduate & post graduate study abroad 21 Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) In 2006, King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz International Prize for the promotion of Scientific Research 45 recipients, 9(20%) are women Al Marai Prize for Scientific Excellence Open to both men & women. In 2005, Established a category exclusively for women researchers. 34 recipients, 4 (11.76%) are women

24 UNESCO – L’Oreal Joint Support
“For Women in Science” Award Out of the 42 female laureates, 4 (9.52%) are Arabs. 12 UNESCO – L’Oreal Fellowship ( ) Grants for young women scientist to pursue their research in Laboratories outside their country of origin There were 130 young women grantees from 20 countries, 21 (16.15%) are Arabs. 12

25 Multinational companies
Most countries in the Arab region adapted gender diversity in most business entities in either government or private sector: Schlumberger Operates in 80 countries, employing 80,000 of 140 Nationalities In 2003 the women employee were: 15% research scientist, field engineers and managers, 9% operation and section managers, 4% R&D, global directors, 7% executives 18 Saudi Aramco Main operation in the KSA and has global overseas affiliates. In 2005, 2908 were women employee, 40% are professionals

26 Regional Organizations for Women in Science
Saudi Science club, formed women’s division to support pre-university science students. Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF - Sharja, U.A.E.) recently formed the women’s committee in support of women members. Prominent women scientist representing Arab researcher around the globe were nominated to the ASTF board of directors Women comprise 8.7% of the total ASTF scientists and technologists

27 International Organizations for Women in Science
International organizations whose members are mainly women in science: Arab Network for Women in Science & Technology (ANWST), Bahrain International Network of Women Engineers and Scientist (INWES) International Organizations that support women in science: ESCWA UNESCO STMRN UNIFEM

28 Women achievements is internationally being recognized
International Awards Women achievements is internationally being recognized Nobel Prize (1901) Out of the 773 Laureates, 34 are women (4.46%) Of these women 12 (35.29%) are in science 19 King Faisal International Prize(1977) Out of the 161 Laureates, 4 (2.6 %) are women Of these women one is a scientist. 13

29 Proposed Future Developments for Women’s Career in S & T
Realizing the “education for all” principle Overcoming the Language barrier Budget allocation for women activities in R & D Science clubs in schools & universities are to be supported Introduction of computers, Internet, educational satellite channels and multimedia to promote self learning, research & discovery in S & T Attention should be made to upgrade the laboratories to facilitate empirical education Encourage women to continue post graduate studies and post doctorate professional development programs

30 Encourage women to specialize in S&T and lead the research teams
Participation in scientific conferences and meetings within & outside the ٌregion, to increase interaction with experts and improve their skills and profiles Research centres concerned with women’s affair should be encouraged and supported Collaborative research between the Arab region and countries of the developed world to be established To establish information and documentation centres to monitor the situation of Arab women in S&T Creating S&T professional information system to be provided to educational and training establishments for networking Employment for women in S&T should be balanced with educational and training opportunities Marketing and capacity building systems for women’s research products should be activated

31 Exemplary Arab Women in Science
Fayza Al- Khorafi Kuwait Distinguished scholar, professor and accomplished chemist The first Arab woman to be appointed Rector of Arab University (Kuwait University) Sara Akbar A Petroleum Engineer, member of Kuwait Oil Company since 1981 Played an important role in extinguishing the oil fires after the Gulf war and cleaning up one of the worst environmental disasters in history Recipient of “Globe 500” Award from the UN Environmental Program Zaha’ Hadid Iraq A diva of World Architecture having design and execute major architectural projects e.g. Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts (Cincinnati)), BMW plant (Leipzig), bridge linking Abu Dhabi to the mainland of UAE Awarded the Pritzker Prize (Arhitecture’s equivalent to Nobel Prize)

32 Hayat Sindi KSA At the young age of 20, Inventor of the device combining the effect of light & ultrasound for use in the field on Biotechnology Huda Zoghbi Lebanon The first Arab women scientist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS- Houston, USA) Her studies have broadened understanding of diseases of the neurosystem, e.g. Alzheimer,s and the role of neuron particularly implicated in neurodenerative behavioural disease e.g. ataxia or loss of balance Maha Ashour Abdalla Egypt Her research spans a range of theoretical problems in the field of space plasma physics She conceived and developed the approach of using large-scale kinetic (LSK) calculations for studying the magnetotail

33 Shadia Rifai Habbal (Syria) Contributed to the development of the first spaceship to the closest possible point near the sun in 2007 Spearheaded an academic movement for women scientist called “Adventurous women” Leila Abdel Haqq Belkoura Morocco An Astrophysicist and science writer Achieved worldwide fame in her book “Minding the Heavens” Habiba Bouhamed Chaabouni Tunisia Devoted her medical and research career in improving conditions for children and families affected by genetic disorder in Tunisia and fought for over 20 years to get medical genetics recognized as an essential discipline in both research medical training Recipient of UNESCO/L’Oreal “Women in Science “ Award (Africa) Rafiaa Ghubash Bahrain President of the Gulf University Director of Arab Network of Women Science and Technology

34 Conclusion Islam promotes the importance of education to both sexes as the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) ordered “Seek knowledge from cradle to grave” In no region in the world do women have equal rights to men (economical, social or legal) Growing number of women’s association and organizations in the Arab world is a positive phenomenon Women education in most Arab countries only developed during the last 50 years, now the number of women graduates in the fields of Science is more or less equal to men Although women have the same opportunities as men in most fields of science and health education, yet there is a limited job opportunities for women.

35 The glass ceiling still exist for women Globally
What can we do with this workforce of qualified Arab Women in Science ? Scientific Research is the answer We need collaboration. Collaborative programs such as the joint supervision program at KAAU need political & administrative support and recognition in order to succeed. Impact of collaboration between scientists from the Arab world and the developed world : Arab world would benefit from the transfer of technology Developed world scientists would gain access to under researched region Gender equality will not be achieved by formal measures only, it must be conquered. And we as woman scientists should ensure, we are in the fore front of such a movement

36 References 2. ESCWA website:
1. Forbes Magazine (December 2004), The 50 most Powerful Arab Women in Dubai, UAE; DIT Publishing 2.       ESCWA website: 3.       Islam, S.I. (2004); Saudi Women: Achievement in Science. 4.    Islam, S.I. (2004); Saudi Women: Their Role in Science and Education - Presented to NISTADS Conference, New Delhi, India on March 8 -10, 2004 5.       Hassan, Farkhonda : Islamic Women in science; httb:// 6.       Adnan Badran: UNESCO Science Report 2004. 7.       United Nations, Where do Arab Women Stand in The Development Process? A Gender- Based Statistical Analysis – Distr LIMETED E/ESCWA/SDD/2004/Booklet.1-January2004 8.       The Role of Women in the Modern Arab World - Enhancing the Human Resource Development of The League of Arab States- by Lema Hamed, Ahmed Suliman, October 2003. 9.       Women in the Arab World by H.R.P. Princess Basma bint Talal, Geneva, 26 March 1996; 10.   Al-Qazzat, Ayad: Education of Women in the Arab World; 11.   Central Intelligence Agency Website:

37   12. L’Oreal website:
King Faisal Foundation Public Relation Department (n.d.) retrieved February 16, 2005, from Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Health Statistical Year Book, 1421/ Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia. World Bank Report 2002. UNDP – POGAR: Programme on governance in the Arab Region http”//  Andrew Gould, Chairman & CEO Schlumberger Ltd. Waking up to the need for women in science & technology from Nobel Prize website: Corey Habbas, Muslim women in Science Arab Development Report 2005 Khaled A. Taki, Ph.D. The current status of Arab Woman in the Arab world Mona M. Kaidbey. Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: The Arab Experience Maita Al Shamsi. The uneven path of women’s empowerment

38 Acknowledgment Many thanks to:
Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), and to all the authorities behind this event for inviting me to present & document the progress and opportunities of Arab women The King Abdulaziz University & King Fahad Medical Research Centre for their Support And All, who in one way or another helped during the making of this presentation.

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