Lived Experiences of Women in Leadership Positions in the Public Sector in Saudi Arabia Post- Promulgation of Vision 2030

  • Azhar Gawarir

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In today's globalized society, opportunities to hold leadership roles are increasing for many women. However, in countries where women’s political rights have only recently and partially been recognised, women's representation in senior positions remains low compared to men. This is notably true in the Arabic world, specifically in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of this study aims to assess and analyse the experiences of Saudi women leaders to determine how their family dynamics, socio-cultural, policy-making environment, country and workplace experience may impact their leadership journeys and develop recommendations for encouraging women's aspirations toward leadership positions in Saudi Arabia’s public sector through an examination of female’s perspectives. It attempts to do so infect to accomplish the following objectives:
• To examine from the perspective of the female leaders the aspects associated with family dynamics that may have impacted their journey to arrive at senior leadership roles.
• To discover from the viewpoint of female leaders the cultural, social factors and policy framework that may have enhanced or inhibited their core capability to obtain leadership positions in Saudi Arabia.
• To assess the female leaders' opinion on the influence of a decisive workplace environment and policies that may have impacted their leadership aspirations.
• To develop suggestions for encouraging women's aspirations toward leadership positions in the public sector organizations in Saudi Arabia.

The study employed a pragmatic paradigm and a hybrid methodology, which included semi-structured qualitative interviews with nine selected women leaders, a quantitative survey with 134 randomly selected participants, and a thematic content analysis of 25 media articles. The findings indicate that while a supportive early childhood and home environment helped shape leadership qualities and aspirations, post-marriage, assistance for managing household responsibilities and work aided women leaders in career progression. Discrimination based on gender stereotypes was shown to be a product of the traditional socio-cultural and religious based gender stereotypes, segregation, and missed opportunities. At the same time, the patriarchal work culture continued to deny women leaders equal compensation, credit training and growth opportunities. The research proposed that vision 2030 policy adjustments be implemented with greater rigour and precision.
Date of AwardJun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorSusan Greener (Supervisor), Surbhi Sehgal (Supervisor) & Lynda Measor (Supervisor)


  • Women
  • Gender
  • Leadership
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Empowerment
  • Vision 2030

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