Arab women deserve to be academic leaders

Nine Arab countries have no female academic leaders: Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Qatar, Somalia and Yemen.
Sunday 16/12/2018
Omaima Al-Khamis, a Saudi writer, delivers a speech after receiving Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature at the American University (AUC) in Cairo, December 11. (Reuters)
Omaima Al-Khamis, a Saudi writer, delivers a speech after receiving Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature at the American University (AUC) in Cairo, December 11. (Reuters)

A recent survey by Al-Fanar Media and InfoTimes, an independent data analysis company, stated that less than 7% of Arab universities have women presidents. Only 48 of the 702 universities surveyed were led by women.

Nine Arab countries have no female academic leaders: Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Qatar, Somalia and Yemen. There is some progress in the Gulf region, where women lead more than 13% of universities, and in Saudi Arabia, where they lead more than 11%.

The issue is about fairness to women whose academic and leadership achievements qualify them for such positions. As they become the majorities in many, if not most Arab universities, female students need role models.

Jouhaina Gherib, president of Manouba University in northern Tunisia, says seeing women in academic leadership roles “increases female students’ confidence in their abilities and promotes their ambition to reach an advanced position.”

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