JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has launched a nationwide awareness campaign #HereToLead to promote gender equality and reinforce women’s advancement in Saudi Arabia.
As part of the initiative, a survey carried out at KAUST among Saudi women, both staff and students, showed that participants regard the university as a fostering environment with pioneering initiatives to encourage women’s professional development and empowerment.
The campaign is expected to run throughout the year to showcase the success stories of Saudi women at KAUST, highlighting their achievements, as well as their contributions to the Saudi community and economy.
Vice-Chair of the Institutional Biosafety and Bioethics Committee at KAUST, Dana Al-Sulaiman, said the university “has been instrumental in my professional advancement, providing me with a wealth of opportunities and a vibrant environment that respects equity and inclusion. As a Saudi female faculty member, I have the chance to play a major role in educating the next generation and advancing the roles of women in the workplace.”
Linda Al-Zaben, a Ph.D. student in applied mathematics and computational sciences, said that the university gave her the opportunity to practice leadership skills, and acquire and develop coaching techniques.
“It also made me a better researcher because of the wide exposure it has,” she said.
KAUST is acclaimed for the opportunities to gives women to pursue graduate degrees. It is the first campus university offering Ph.D. degrees in engineering for women in the Kingdom and has allowed gender integration since opening in 2009.
The Saudi women who took part in the survey agree that KAUST supports their goals, bolsters their confidence and offers a path to greater possibilities.
“KAUST is an institutional role model in encouraging every woman to seek all opportunities even in male-dominated fields,” one respondent said.
Another said that “KAUST is supporting women’s advancement by running programs such as the KAUST Gifted Students Program targeting young Saudi women and other initiatives that celebrate women’s talents. Hiring women in leadership and faculty positions within KAUST inspires this generation.”
Vice President of KAUST Strategic National Advancement, Najah Ashry, said: “We have seen tremendous interest from women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Our firm belief is that through the #HereToLead platform, we will be able to give them a voice to empower and encourage more women to embark on this professional journey.”
KAUST President Prof. Tony Chan said that 40 percent of the university’s students are women, “and we remain steadfast in creating innumerable opportunities for them.”