Perceived and real barriers to workplace empowerment among women at Saudi universities: A cross-sectional study

Awad M Al-Qahtani, Heba A Ibrahim, Wafaa T Elgzar, Hanan Abd Elwahab El Sayed, Tulip Abdelghaffar, Rania I Moussa, Aisha R Alenzy

Abstract

Academic women in the Arab world, especially Saudi women, have numerous barriers inhibiting their leadership power at the workplace. The current study explores the perceived and real barriers to workplace empowerment among women at Saudi universities.  A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out at 15 Saudi governmental universities. A multistage cluster sampling technique was followed to select (5587 participants) The data collection started from the beginning of April to the beginning of September 2020. SPSS 23.0 was used to analyze data using descriptive statistics. Multiple linear regression was used to identify the real barriers to women empowerment at the workplace. The study showed that 52.1% of the study participants had moderate workplace empowerment, and only 10.2% have a low level. Regarding perceived barriers to workplace empowerment, 42.6% of the participants agree that male dominance was a barrier. Moreover, 36.2% of the participants agreed and strongly agree that the customs and traditions are a barrier to women empowerment at the workplace. Multiple linear regression showed that age, followed by years of experience (p<0.000), were the most significant demographic predictors of women empowerment at the workplace. Moreover, positive attitude, high self-esteem, and good knowledge (p<0.000) were considered other variables that positively predict women's empowerment at the workplace. The experience of gender-based violence (p<0.000) was a negative predictor of women empowerment at the workplace. The study concluded that around 62.3% of Saudi female academics and administrative staff have moderate or low workplace empowerment at Saudi Universities. Male dominance is perceived as the highest barrier. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[1s]: 26-35).

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