By Elizabeth Broomhall
Arab women outpacing men in the classroom but fighting to compete in boardroom
Just two women ranked among the world’s 50 richest Arabs, the Arabian Business Rich List 2011 showed, despite a rise in the number of businesswomen in the region.
Lubna Olayan, CEO of the Riyadh-based Olayan Financing Company, took the No.3 spot along with the remainder of her family with a worth of $12.4bn.
Chairwoman of the international firm Swatch, Nayla Hayek, ranked joint 38th with her brother Nick, with a estimated fortune of $3.1bn.
The results paint a picture of male dominance in the region, in contract with data that shows a rise in female graduates exiting university with higher grades than their male counterparts.
“Today, [more] women are going into higher education and parents are more open for their daughters getting an education as only with education can you get a job,” Dr Mona Al Munajjed, a Saudi sociologist and activist, told Arabian Business in December.
“In Saudi, women represent almost 60 percent of the total number of Saudi university students.”
Female participation in the GCC labour market has doubled over the past twenty or thirty years, and even tripled in some states, she said.
“Although there is still a significant gender gap in labour force participation at all ages, women’s participation has increased considerably.”