Profiles of Women in STE in Bahrain

Education:

Literacy Rate (2006)  84%
Primary School Enrollment (2006)  97%
Secondary School Enrollment (2006)  93%
Tertiary School Enrollment (2006)  45%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Science
(1995/1996)
 72%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Medicine
(1995/1996)
 75%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Engineering
(1995/1996)
 32%

Employment:

2006 Female Labor Force Participation Rate:  29%
Wage Equality for Similar Work (Ratio of women’s wage to men’s wage)  0.66
Enterprise-Level Policies to Combat and Prevent Sexual Harassment  3.11
    • A free education system is provided in Bahrain through the secondary level, and a new education law making education compulsory for six to 15 year olds was approved by parliament in May of 2004. This law has helped make impressive strides in educating the public, as evident through impressive enrollment of girls in primary and secondary school, at 97% and 93% respectively, and high literacy rates. In the past, the number of girls enrolled in intermediate and secondary schools often exceeded that of boys. In fact, women outnumber men in most of the colleges in Bahrain. At this higher level, few women in Bahrain study the sciences; however, this appears to be due to a lack general focus on the sciences within tertiary education, rather than to any gender imbalance, as demonstrated by the fact that in the 1995/96 school year, out of the entire student population, only 8.6% women studied the sciences, and a meager 4.4% men studied the same subject. However, of the students that opted to study sciences, 72% were women, and 75% of students studying medicine were women. Women only comprised 32% of those pursuing engineering, one of the few academic fields in which men do outnumber the women. This demonstrates a steady increase from the 1990-1991 academic year, when women comprise of 68% of students studying basic sciences, 60% studying medicine, and 20% studying engineering . It is apparent that women are progressively becoming interested in science fields. Women, however, lack the opportunities to learn vocational skills that men receive, such as training in fields such as industry, mechanical maintenance, and carpentry.
    • While women have a great many opportunities in their education, they do not in choosing their career. They only comprised 29% of the labor force in 2006, largely due to significant pay and hiring discrimination. Social norms restrict women from entering fields that are considered more masculine, such as mechanical engineering. According to Freedom House, women often enter government jobs that offer daily shifts to allow women to balance their careers and housework. Discrimination in hiring women seems to be more pronounced in the private sector, where employers may be reluctant to hire women out of fear of having to bear the financial costs of paid maternity leave, as mandated under the law. Even in the professions that are considered more feminine, women are largely absent from the leadership positions; although women make up the majority of teachers, few rise to high positions in academia. As women are implicitly prohibited from entering certain fields, female graduates face high competition and are often over-qualified for their job. Because of this, unemployment is high among female graduates
  • The Bahrain Constitution provides for equality and equal opportunity in healthcare, welfare, education, and employment. However, these laws are seldom enforced. Women do have rights to own, sell, and rent land, and women often allow a male relative to manage their property. While the laws do make some provisions for maternity leave and other discrimination-in-the-workplace laws, the government has not taken any action against employers guilty of gender discrimination .

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