A Phenomenological Exploration of Saudi Women Employees’ Perception of Agency and Career Advancement
Recent government initiatives in Saudi Arabia have increased employment opportunities for Saudi women. Working Saudi women have the potential to add significant value to the economic development of Saudi Arabia, yet historically, Saudi women faced legal, cultural, and social barriers to employment and career advancement opportunities. This transcendental phenomenological study sought to describe the perception of promotability as it related to agency norms experienced by Saudi women with at least two years of employment experience and working in mixed-gender environments in Saudi Arabia. The study examined the lived experiences of Saudi women employed in Mecca, Madinah, Jeddah, and Riyadh, and how their individual and collective agency impacted their career advancement opportunities. The findings provide insights on barriers to career advancement for Saudi working women. Overall, the study participants expressed high levels of individual agency and collective agency from the government, yet the participants’ expressed lower levels of collective agency from their places of work due to their organizations lacking clear processes for a promotion and the participants experiencing gender biases. Based on the findings, recommendations for Saudi working women, organizational leaders, and policy makers are suggested. Keywords: gender, promotions, career advancement, barriers, individual agency, collective agency, Saudi Arabia
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