More women than ever before are pursuing education in science around the world, and the Arab world is no exception. However, the number of women who pursue research careers after education quickly trickles down, especially in the private sector. In the Arab world, this is mainly due to cultural norms that force women to forego time-consuming research careers for family-raising responsibilities.
The private sector is often not keen on hiring women due to stereotypes of poor commitment and the fact they may require long holidays due to pregnancy and labour, which are seen as “problems” not encountered when hiring men.
However, there are some positive signs in the region. According to UNESCO, 38% of researchers in the region are women – more than the North American and West European average of 32% and the world average of 30%.
Tunisia and Egypt topped the list of Arab states with the least disparity between the sexes in research, with 47% and 42% of researchers being women respectively. This comes in stark contrast to Saudi Arabia where only 1% of researchers are women, says UNESCO. Jordan, Libya, Oman and Palestine were all below 25% as well.
To mark International Women’s Day, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) has produced a cool interactive infograph on the status of women in research broken down by region and countries, with information about the different fields of research as well as the different sectors they are employed in. You can visit it by clicking on the image below, then start exploring the petri dishes.