Profiles of Women in STE in Kuwait

Education:

Literacy Rate(2006)  91%
Primary School Enrollment(2006)  87%
Secondary School Enrollment(2006)  80%
Tertiary School Enrollment(2006)  33%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Science(1995/1996)  73%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Medicine(1995/1996)  73%
Percentage of Women among Students Studying Engineering(1995/1996)  49%

Employment:

2006 Female Labor Force Participation Rate:  49%
Wage Equality for Similar Work(Ratio of women’s wage to men’s wage)  N/A
Enterprise-Level Policies to Combat and Prevent Sexual Harassment  2.85
    • Kuwait has made more progress than most Gulf nations toward improving the status of women and ensuring gender equality. Women and men are guaranteed free and equal access to primary through university education. In 2006, primary school enrollment for women stood at 87%, secondary school enrollment at 80%, and tertiary school enrollment at 33%. However, at the tertiary level, women comprise almost 2/3 of the student body and study all subjects. This may be due to the large number of male students traveling to foreign universities for their education. Due to disproportional enrollment of women led Kuwait University in the mid-1990s to introduce different GPA requirements for the admission of women and men, with the goal of reducing the percentage of female students in certain academic fields. Out of the entire student population, 8.9% of women chose to study science, outnumbering the meager 3.5% of men that studied science, in 1995-1996 . Female students are now required to have a 3.3 GPA to be admitted to the engineering department, while male students need only a 2.8 GPA. Women must maintain a 3.5 GPA to be admitted to the field of medicine, while men need only a 3.3 GPA. These changes were introduced in response to the exceedingly high number of women pursuing the science fields. In 1996, Islamists in the National Assembly passed legislation requiring all university classes in Kuwait to be segregated by gender, reversing a government decree integrating classes in 1990.
    • Women constituted 49% of Kuwait’s labor force in 2006, one of the highest proportions in the Gulf region. Women can be found in most professional fields including engineering, architecture, medicine, and law. However, they do not have full freedom to choose their professions. Many female graduates of professional schools have to attain permission to work from their husbands or male guardians, which leads some Kuwaiti women to shy away from studying subjects such as science and medicine, knowing they may not be permitted to pursue careers in these fields. The vast majority of Kuwaiti women are employed in the public sector.
  • Kuwaiti women do enjoy substantial protections against discrimination. They have the right to freely enter into business and financial contracts and activities at all levels. However, de facto control of women’s professions by their male guardians does counter these laws that support women in the workforce.

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