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ERIC Number: EJ1097942
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0307-5079
The Role of Arab Women Faculty in the Public Sphere
Almansour, Sana; Kempner, Ken
Studies in Higher Education, v41 n5 p874-886 2016
This study considers the level of critical involvement women professors in Saudi Arabia have in their university and in the larger society. Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU), Saudi Arabia, the largest women's university in the world, was the site of this investigation. PNU is the first institution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to have women as the principal decision-makers in running and managing a university. This transformed context for leadership of women at PNU has also changed how faculty members participate in institutional governance and in the larger public sphere. Given that PNU's mission is to "contribute to society," we asked in this study how faculty engages in political, cultural and social issues within the public sphere in Saudi Arabia and globally. To consider the level of participation in the public sphere, we selected a sample of nine women professors at PNU. From this investigation, we found that the majority of the PNU professors we interviewed are actively engaged in the public sphere in spite of the inherent problems impeding their participation. Chief among the difficulties in participating in the public sphere identified by these professors are family obligations and a poor and bureaucratic research infrastructure. In addition to the need for an established research infrastructure, the PNU professors pointed to cultural issues related to transportation and international travel that also inhibit their participation in the public sphere. Even with these impediments, many PNU faculty members are still able to engage in the public sphere with support from their families. The most notable women in the public sphere are the 30 Saudi women who are members of the Shura Council. Our conclusions suggest that if PNU is to reach its promise as a global university and to be a full participant in the global public sphere, professors should have the freedom to develop their inquiry unfettered by bureaucratic impediments and, in as much as possible, by cultural restrictions. Similarly, other Arab universities hoping to achieve recognition for their research at the international level can be guided by PNU's efforts at increased international collaboration, promotion of English as the medium of research and establishing a competent research infrastructure.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Saudi Arabia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A