Leadership role models ‘lacking’ for Arab women scientists

Nehal Lasheen

Nehal Lasheen
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net

Female Arab scientists are still under-represented in key positions and in many departments, according to Rowaida Al-Ma’aitah, a professor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology, Amman.

“Although women scientists in the Arab world have leadership qualifications, the lack of female scientists in leadership positions limits our influence,” she says. “Women advance more slowly than men into academic leadership positions.”

Some of the most important barriers to leadership for women in academia, in Al- Ma’aitah’s opinion, are the lack of access to career advice, mentoring and socialising for women faculty; as well as invisible factors that keep women from rising to the top.

Al- Ma’aitah says she has personally experienced discrimination. She told attendees of the International conference on Women in Science and Technology in the Arab Countries (21-23 April), in Kuwait City, that she was a new manager when one of her male employees told her that there was “no way” that he was going to work “under a female manager”.

“I told him, do whatever you want because I am staying,” she says. “And after a few months he saw my performance and the difference I had made, and he appreciated me very much since then.”

This blog post is part of SciDev.Net’s coverage of International conference on Women in Science and Technology in the Arab Countries which takes place 21-23 April 2013, in Kuwait City, Kuwait. To read further news and analysis please visit our website.

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