100 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN
UAE..............................AED 30
SAUDI ARABIA............SAR 30
BAHRAIN.......................
4 JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014
51
A Man’s World?
Wes Schwalje, Chief Operating Officer
at Tahseen Consulting, explores why
science...
51JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014
A
s the GCC continues to embrace science, tech-
nology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),
women ...
52 JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014
FME: Do you believe that more attention from faculty ad-
visers might keep STEM women on the acad...
53JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014
enter the market, especially companies with few women,
many of which are STEM-related.
FME: What c...
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Tahseen Consulting’s Wes Schwalje Speaks With Forbes Woman Middle East About Female Education and Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields in the GCC

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With its second issue released in July, Forbes Woman Middle East is quickly emerging as a leading publication for female professionals in the Arab World. Rather than focus on beauty and fashion like many competing publications aimed at women in the region, Forbes Woman Middle East is aimed at professional women who are trying to make a mark on companies across the region.

Tahseen Consulting is honored to have its work on female technical vocational education and training and employment in the GCC featured in the July issue. In the article, Tahseen Consulting’s Chief Operating Officer Wes Schwalje speaks with Hannah Stewart Executive Editor from Forbes Woman Middle East regarding the barriers facing women in entering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the GCC. In a wide ranging discussion, Schwalje explains the economic impact of the lack of women employed in STEM fields and what GCC countries can do to encourage more women to enter emerging technical fields.

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Transcript of "Tahseen Consulting’s Wes Schwalje Speaks With Forbes Woman Middle East About Female Education and Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Fields in the GCC"

  1. 1. 100 MOST POWERFUL WOMEN UAE..............................AED 30 SAUDI ARABIA............SAR 30 BAHRAIN..................... BHD 3 KUWAIT................... KWD 2.5 QATAR.........................QAR 30 OMAN..........................OMR 3 OTHERS...............................$8 JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE 2 CONVINCING COUNSEL WHY DIAMONDS STILL DAZZLE FAIRY GODMOTHER OF FASHION DISPLAY UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2014 MENA WOMEN OF MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS: WHO SAID BUSINESS AND PLEASURE DON’T MIX? THE FEMININE FRONTLINE THE QUEST TO UNEARTH THE TRUTH HAS TAKEN CNN'S HALA GORANI ON A JOURNEY OF DEFINING MOMENTS
  2. 2. 4 JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014 51 A Man’s World? Wes Schwalje, Chief Operating Officer at Tahseen Consulting, explores why science, technology, engineering and mathematics are failing to attract the women of the GCC. EDITED BY HANNAH STEWART 54 Secret Suppers Clandestine supper society, The Dinner Club by No. 57, founded by entrepreneurs Buthaina Al Mazrui and Noor Bani Hashim, is turning the traditional supper club on its head. BY JOANNE AL-SAMARAE 58 Aiding Change Though it may be a business, humanitarian aid also requires compassion. This is where CEO of International Humanitarian City, Shaima Al Zarooni, really shines. BY SUZANNE FENTON 62 Why Diamonds Still Dazzle As the diamond market steadily grows, David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department for Europe and the Middle East, points to an Arab appetite for diamonds. EDITED BY HANNAH STEWART 66 All That Glitters With her heart set in the glamor and romance of the 1950s, Lynda Kirby, founder of Audrey’s Cat, has something for everyone in her world of vintage. BY SUZANNE FENTON 68 Wheels of Fortune As women of the Middle East take their positions in the driving seat of luxury, automobile dealer Carmudi highlights the region’s top four-wheeled wonders. BY HANNAH STEWART 72 In the Driving Seat Blessed with desert highways, mountain passes and two F1 tracks, the Middle East was made for driving. Now, Ian Gorsuch, Regional Director, Middle East & Africa at McLaren Automotive, believes the region’s women are giving men a run for their money. BY SUZANNE FENTON Contents C M Y CM MY CY CMY K
  3. 3. 51JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014 A s the GCC continues to embrace science, tech- nology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), women are being left behind. The high concen- tration of female nationals in the public sector results in little movement into the sciences. And, unless at- titudes change, says Wes Schwalje, Chief Operating Officer at specialized advisor on strategic and organizational issues, Tahseen Consulting, this will continue to prevent GCC countries from realiz- ing their full STEM potential. Forbes Middle East: There is a distinct lack of women working in the science, technology, engineering, and math- ematics (STEM) fields in the GCC. Where are they working instead? Wes Schwalje: The female labor force in the GCC is generally employed in fields such as public administration, education, and social work. In many of the GCC countries, it is not uncommon to find 70% or more of the female labor force concentrated in the public sector. While the region’s male labor force is also heavily concen- trated in the public sector, there has been a notable shift towards employment in more diverse STEM fields within the construction, transportation, petrochemicals, and ex- tractive sectors. FME: Why are there so few women working in STEM- related fields? WS: The structure of GCC educational systems, gender-bi- ased academic offerings, and lack of female faculty serve to dissuade women from enrolling in STEM programs and subsequently entering technical employment fields. Government and institutional decisions to offer select programs to women fail to fully cover STEM fields, and in many GCC nations, women do not have adequate exposure to STEM at a young age meaning they don’t develop an interest. Instead, fe- males are often encouraged to pursue careers in fields such as humanities, so- cial sciences, and education. In addition, social and cultural norms are highly influential in motivat- ing the occupational choices of women in GCC nations and limits the sectors in which they desire to work. Though a lack of women in STEM is a global issue, there is a unique re- gional challenge regarding societal and labor market norms that presently push women towards a very narrow selec- tion of socially acceptable employment fields in the public sector. The success of females in accessing higher education has to some degree masked the emerging regional challenge of attracting women to STEM programs. Currently, many women attending higher education receive degrees in fields which are not consistent with regional economic ambitions to grow technology and innovation-driven industries. A Man’s World? Wes Schwalje, Chief Operating Officer at Tahseen Consulting, explains why science, technology, engineering and mathematics are failing to attract the women of the GCC. EDITED BY HANNAH STEWART SOCIETY Wes Schwalje
  4. 4. 52 JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014 FME: Do you believe that more attention from faculty ad- visers might keep STEM women on the academic career track? WS: Within institutional faculty structures, female educa- tors in the GCC tend to be concentrated at the lower end of the academic pyramid. While more attention from faculty advisers could potentially play an important role in increas- ing female enrollment and employment in STEM fields, research suggests that role models have the most powerful impact on students’ academic success. From this perspective, low numbers of female faculty might perpetuate beliefs that women are not successful in STEM fields. A major challenge in the GCC remains iden- tifying and exposing young women to role models with whom they can personally identify. FME: What about early education? How significant is this in shaping the relationship between women and STEM? WS: Research on educational content in GCC nations has found that textbooks may contain implicit biases that por- tray women in administrative rather than technical posi- tions. This research suggests that women throughout the Arab region are predetermined to occupy different social and economic roles than men, and part of this process oc- curs in educational institutions at young ages. Prior research has found that textbook content through- out the region continues to portray women as family mem- bers, while portraying men in their professions. The way that women are portrayed in textbooks to children, even at young ages, influences girls’ understandings of the appro- priate future roles and paths available to them. FME: What are the implications of low female presence in STEM fields for societies and economies across the Arab world? WS: Increased female participation in STEM fields can in- fluence changes in gender role attitudes and can broaden la- bor market options for women. Low rates of female employ- ment in STEM could have negative implications on regional growth by depriving emerging knowledge-based industries of highly skilled labor. Although labor force participation among GCC females remains among the lowest in the world, there is potential to attract highly educated females into the labor market, and high growth STEM fields in particular. Low rates of labor market participation make it more difficult for women to SOCIETY SHUTTERSTOCK/ALEXANDERRATHS
  5. 5. 53JULY - SEPTEMBER 2014 enter the market, especially companies with few women, many of which are STEM-related. FME: What can GCC countries do to amend the disparity? WS: Across the GCC, some STEM options are not open to women, including many advanced engineering sub-disci- plines critical to regional development. Addressing the sup- ply of technical, vocational and educational training (TVET) programs means not only increasing the number of options available to women but also ensuring that institutions are fe- male-friendly and offer high quality programs. To increase the number of females studying in STEM programs at the secondary and tertiary levels, GCC coun- tries will have to address socio-cultural barriers to enroll- ment. Addressing these obstacles will involve intervention and policies aimed at students and parents that positively influence persistent beliefs about the kinds of students who attend TVET and the post-graduation opportunities avail- able to women. FME: Are there any signs to indicate positive change in the MENA region, or perhaps examples of Arab women suc- cessfully working in this field? WS: There have been several positive regulatory and poli- cy changes. Many of the GCC countries have made positive amendments to labor laws to guarantee women receive equal pay to men. Yet, females are still limited in terms of the fields in which they can be employed and hours they can work by some national labor laws. The majority of the GCC countries have made signifi- cant progress in creating national qualifications frameworks which are important to changing opinions about STEM fields as many people do not currently understand how particular technical or vocational qualifications compare to academic university degree level qualifications. The UAE’s National Qualifications Authority is now leading regional efforts to- wards a GCC-wide qualifications framework to increase stu- dent mobility and qualification portability regionally. FME: What advice would you give to young women inter- ested in entering the STEM arena? WS: Nowadays, emerging research suggests that STEM qualifications, and particularly those qualifications which can be earned through two-year technical and vocational programs, are increasingly valued in regional labor mar- kets. For example, evidence from Qatar shows that the rate of return to technical education exceeds that of academic higher education. Young women interested in emerging STEM fields must seek out information and form mentor relationships with women in their industry of interest. Since career counseling throughout the region tends to show a strong bias towards academic education, young women will need to make these connections themselves and develop an individual develop- ment plan to examine their skills, interests, and values. Country Female Nationals Employed in the Public Sector (%) Female Nationals Employed in the Private Sector (%) Bahrain 50 50 Kuwait* 94 6 Oman 65 35 Qatar 88 12 Saudi Arabia 63 37 UAE 89 11 Sources: National Statistical Agencies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE Note: *Some studies suggests that in 2010 79% of females worked in the public sector. However, a definitive publically available data source is not available. Total Female Students Enrolled (%) Major Kuwait UAE Qatar Arts and Sciences 28 19 48 Education 27 3 4 Business and Economics 15 11 23 Law 9 3 6 Food and Agriculture 0 3 Data not available Engineering 17 7 15 Medicine and Health Sciences 3 2 4 Information Technology Data not available 2 Data not available Source: National Statistical Agencies of Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar Note: Data is presented only for countries which have publically available statistics Country Labor Market Participation Male Nationals (%) Labor Market Participation Female Nationals (%) Bahrain 68 33 Kuwait 61 30 Oman* 45 20 Qatar 65 35 Saudi Arabia 63 16 UAE 58 20 OECD Average 69 51 Source: National Statistical Agencies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE Notes: * Based on working population age 20 to 60 with the remaining participation rates based on the working population aged 15 to 65.

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