Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi has announced to the leaders of technological institutions to think beyond the biases and be more inclusive of women in the workspace and integrate women’s needs into corporate thinking from the start. Sheikha Bodour talked about inclusivity at the WIRED Arab Women in Tech Conference.
The speech happened at the Women in Tech event
This Sheikha made it clear that it was a vital action that humankind learn from its mistakes and march towards progress without leaving half the population behind.
To exemplify, she stated the example of airbags. She said that when airbags were introduced, they were not as effective for women and children compared to men, because the physical differences of both women and children and the car seating positions were not considered in the calculations for the tests.
Referring to the regional progress, the Sheikha stated that 56 percent of UAE government university graduates in the STEM field were women, Women in the ICT sector increased from 7 percent to 28 percent in Saudi Arabia, since 2018, exceeding the EU and G20 averages of 17.5 percent.
The American University of Sharjah witnessed a surge of 36 percent for new undergraduates and 47 percent of graduates women in the spring semester of 2023. At Sharjah University women make up more than half the workforce, including a leading part in technology, engineering, and lab teams. Despite these statistics, female-led start-ups in the Middle East region have access to 2 percent of funding from venture capitalists, and only 38 percent of women who learned computer science work in the sector, where men account for 53 percent.
Sheikha Bodour used this opportunity to give out suggestions to increase female inclusivity in the workspace. She advised the companies to remove barriers to participation by keeping in mind women’s needs in higher upstream decision-making because opportunities are only equal when access to them is equal. She suggested developing a more inclusive workspace and culture that promote diversity and inclusion like starting female mentorship programs, allowing flexible working, and making sure of equal pay and opportunities for efficient progress.
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She said that women have unique needs and challenges such as balancing work and family responsibilities and dealing with pregnancy and motherhood. She added that we cannot expect women to perform and grow in their careers in environments that were not constructed with their needs in mind.
By giving them space to flourish and assisting in woman’s career development in the technology sector which will result in increased representation in leadership roles which will bring forth fresh ideas and creative solutions to the industry’s challenges.
Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi serves as the President of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) and of Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovative Park (SRTIP), Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority and several other decorated position.
She was also the second woman and first Arab and Muslim president of the 126-year-old International Publishers Association from the years 2021 to 2022. In 2019, she launched the Publisher project with the aim of giving more women the opportunity to take on leadership and board positions in the publishing industry.