In comparison to many countries in the world, Saudi Arabian women have always excelled at universities when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related programs. In fact, UNESCO and World Bank statistics reveal that in 2014 that Saudi women comprised 59 percent of total students enrolled in Computer Science in the Kingdom, while the figures in the United Kingdom and the United States were 16 percent and 14 percent respectively.
Today, Saudi women are breaking into more advanced levels of these programs, as around 100 female students have enrolled for the first time Saudi history for higher studies – master’s and PhD programs – at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). According to Saudi Gazette, this phenomenon is due to the fact that the University Council session decided last year to allow female students to enroll in graduate and postgraduate courses in a number of disciplines
The news site reported that the first batch of students are pursuing their postgraduate degrees at KFUPM in the disciplines of mathematics, computer science, and business administration. They were selected from amongst 600 applicants after meeting certain admission criteria.
President of the university, Dr. Sahl Abdul Jawad, was there to welcome the new students and explained that the “institution aspires to provide students with the opportunity to pursue their studies in a way realizing the aspirations of the government in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 that aims to nurture qualified women leaders in key development sectors.”
Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s efforts to support women as the pursue their higher education and qualifications needed to enter the workforce has had significant results as of late. A 2018 report by the Kingdom’s Education Ministry on the labor market situation revealed that girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016. That same year, it was reported that women outnumbered men in terms of graduates with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology, physics, and mathematics and statistics.