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Gender equality in employment in Saudi Arabia: a relational perspective

Jawad Syed (Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan)
Faiza Ali (Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan)
Sophie Hennekam (ESC La Rochelle School of Business, La Rochelle, France)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 23 April 2018

Issue publication date: 14 May 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine gender inequality in Saudi Arabia by using a relational perspective that takes into account the interrelated nature of the multilevel factors that influence this phenomenon.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 21 in-depth interviews with female employees in Saudi Arabia were conducted and analysed using a thematic analysis.

Findings

The findings show how the interplay of factors on macro, meso and micro levels influences equal opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia, such as religio-cultural factors, the social power of wasta, the notions of female modesty and family honour and issues related to gender segregation, discrimination and harassment at work. Moreover, Saudi women’s experiences are varied on the basis of social class, family status and other dimensions of individual identity, adding to a growing body of intersectional research. The paper highlights the role of male guardianship system as well as the intersection of gender and class in pushing gender equality forward.

Originality/value

This study stresses the interrelated nature of the multilevel factors that affect gender equality and highlights the important role of individual agency and resilience.

Keywords

Citation

Syed, J., Ali, F. and Hennekam, S. (2018), "Gender equality in employment in Saudi Arabia: a relational perspective", Career Development International, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 163-177. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-07-2017-0126

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited