The Number of Women Employed in Saudi Arabia has Increased by 48% since 2010

Saudi women are entering the workforce in greater numbers as a promising report by Saudi Arabia’s Central Department of Statistics finds a significant uptick in women employed in Saudi Arabia.

The increase of 48% since 2010 is encouraging news for the government of Saudi Arabia.  The report reflects a slow but seismic shift in Saudi society with entrepreneurs and career professionals finding ways toward career success in the Kingdom, as the Los Angeles Times reported last month. 

Saudi women are making gains in the workforce, but have more to go to achieve full equality.

Saudi women are making gains in the workforce, but have more to go to achieve full equality.

Bloomberg notes that the late King Abdullah set in motion many changes for women before his passing, and the changes have been rapid, at least by Saudi standards. In one decree in 2013, King Abdullah appointed 30 women to the 150-member Shura council. By the end of last year, women made up roughly half of all university graduates in Saudi Arabia. 

Although progress is evident, more changes are on the way for women as Saudi Arabia modernizes, and economic needs might be the biggest factor in driving the change, according to Nouf Siddiq and Stephanie Hausheer in an analysis on gender roles for women in Saudi Arabia for SUSTG in November.

“Economic pressures are the driving factor in upending traditional gender roles. Women’s ability to make a larger contribution to household income and the country’s economy has enhanced their status and reduced the political, social, and ideological barriers they face. The cost of living has risen and affordable housing is scarce, so more and more families must rely on two incomes.”