Women in Tech: Breaking Barriers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Ameer Hamza
Women are making their impact in the traditionally male-dominated profession of technology in a world where technology is continually advancing. Recognized for its rich heritage and conservative traditions, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a stunning shift as women break barriers and flourish in the technology industry.
The Changing Landscape: Empowering Saudi Women in the Tech Industry
According to Elaf Alsalman, Lead 3D Creative Technologist at Emtech Lab in PwC Riyadh, there has been a notable change in the tech industry. This change has led to more women in tech and an increase in the number of females holding leadership positions.
In the Kingdom, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmed Al Rajhi, recently announced that Saudi women now constitute 37 percent of the workforce, a significant rise from the previous 17.7 percent reported in 2016. Also, a recent report by Endeavor Insight highlighted that Saudi Arabia surpasses Europe regarding the proportion of women in tech startup companies.
The data from the third quarter of 2021 revealed that women’s participation in the Kingdom’s tech sector stood at 28 percent, over 10 percent higher than the average rate of 17.5 percent in Europe. Furthermore, the study also indicated that the Kingdom boasts a higher percentage of women in tech startups than men.
Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030‘ reform program aims to increase women’s participation in the job market from 22% to 30%, placing the empowerment of Saudi Arabian women at its core. Over the years, the Saudi government launched many programs to urge women to be entrepreneurs, get them involved in the business world, and help tech startups that are run by women.
One example is LEAP, an event co-organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The conference aims to raise awareness about the importance of women’s participation in the tech industry’s growth. During the Leap 2023 conference held in Riyadh, the Kingdom announced they intend to spend $24.7 billion on technology by 2025. Also, several tech companies in the Kingdom have policies in place to encourage diversity and inclusion. This includes flexible work schedules and setting up networking and mentoring opportunities for women.
Additionally, the Kingdom has made significant progress in cybersecurity. As a result, it ranks as the top Arab country in the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) and 13th in the world. In an effort to get more women involved in cybersecurity, the Kingdom hosted the International Forum for Cybersecurity two years ago. At the event, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman discussed ways to improve safety around the world. One of the initiatives aims to promote women’s involvement in cybersecurity and empower them.
With AI and the metaverse, technology is moving forward, which could mean that this is just the beginning for both the country and its women. The possibilities for growth seem to be endless.
The increasing presence of women in the technology industry in the Kingdom demonstrates the strength of determination, empowerment, and teamwork. By breaking down barriers and taking advantage of chances, Saudi women are making an indelible mark on the tech world. They inspire the next generation and change how people think about gender equality.