SAUDI WOMEN LEADERS NEGOTIATING CHALLENGES IN SAUDI ARABIAN HIGHER-EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
Saudi Digital Library
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examine an overarching question: How do Saudi women working in administrative positions in Saudi Arabian higher-education institutions negotiate their challenges as leaders? Sub-questions were created to address the overarching question: (a) What are the challenges that Saudi women leaders in administrative positions face in higher education? (b) What has helped Saudi women leaders overcome their challenges in higher education? (c) What has hindered Saudi women from achieving their leadership goals in their institution? (d) What advice would Saudi women leaders give other women who aspire to attain a leadership position in higher education? Because Saudi Arabian women are mostly absent in the literature, this research also intended to empower women by presenting their voices. This qualitative study utilized narrative inquiry design to assist with understanding the phenomenon by using stories that relate to individuals’ lived experiences. Ten Saudi women working in administrative positions were purposefully selected at three gender-segregated public universities in different regions in Saudi Arabia. These participants were interviewed through video conferencing. Each interview lasted between 45 and 60 minutes and followed a semi-structured interview guide. The responses to the interviews were later transcribed, coded, and analyzed. The findings of the study showed that the challenges identified by the participants replicated those identified in the literature on Saudi Arabian women and leadership. When discussing how they negotiated these challenges, however, the participants seemed to focus mostly on two of them. They relied primarily on themselves and not on the organizational structure of their institutions, and they focused on self-empowerment by dealing with the everyday challenges they faced in their leadership roles by improving their leadership skills and becoming actively engaged in strategic planning and professional development.