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The Rise of Saudi Arabia’s Women Engineers

You’ve stumbled and your phone flies out of your hand. The time between that moment and the moment your phone hits the ground feels like a full minute, even though it has only been a second. Time for another trip to the phone repair stand. But, this time, you might be greeted by a woman instead of a man.

Saudi Arabia is trying to get more women in the office – not only is it good for women to access more opportunities and financial independence, but it could help the government push into a post-oil economy.

One field where women are sorely underrepresented is communications. To combat this, college students were given a very particular training program – how to fix mobile phones.

There are many who assume women aren’t interested in technical fields. In fact, a recent study showed that about 80 percent of Saudi girls want to study engineering. This training may not be equivalent to engineering courses, but it’s certainly technical.

Women at 19 colleges around the country got free training through the Technical and Vocational Training Cooperation. Not only did the 10,769 women who attended the training get basic repair skills, they are now able to get a license to start their own business, a spokesperson for the cooperation told Gulf News.

The cooperation also holds training sessions on other business skills, like customer service and sales, as well as more advanced smart phone repair. Giving women (and Saudis in general) the skills to work in such fields could allow locals to take jobs that might otherwise be given to expats.

One of the Saudi Arabian government’s Vision 2030 goals was to increase women’s participation in the workforce up to 30 percent. If Saudi Arabia wants to meet its goal of engaging more women in work, these initiatives are key.

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