"" Before today, Saudi women could now work in subjects like technology and space exploration.

Before today, Saudi women could now work in subjects like technology and space exploration.

Saudi women have gained prominence over the last ten years, with thousands making first-time attempts at education and employment, prospering in historically male-dominated fields, and assuming leadership positions.

Women have experienced social stigma and professional obstacles worldwide and in many different cultures. They are frequently excluded from public life under the guise of religion and custom. The same was true in Saudi Arabia for many years.

Authorities had misrepresented fundamental Islamic teachings. In reality, even before the ideas of gender equality and human rights were codified in legislation, these teachings had given women equal status and leadership roles in society.

Saudi women have reclaimed their rightful position in society and the workforce with the introduction of reforms by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the past several years, putting their skills to the test in nearly every industry imaginable.

The Saudi Space Council, or SSC, announced last month that two astronauts would fly on the Axiom-2 private trip to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft next year.

The four-person team will spend ten days on the International Space Station conducting 14 biomedical and physics experiments. Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, the first female Saudi astronaut, will be a part of the mission.

As backups for the mission, Mariam Fardous and Ali Al-Ghamdi, now a part of the Saudi Human Spaceflight Program, will also undergo training.

Thirty-four female train drivers joined the ninth recruitment team operating the high-speed railway between Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah in the western part of the Kingdom, according to Saudi transport officials, who made the revelation a month before the SSC.

These astronauts and train drivers are just a few of the thousands of Saudi women now enlisting in the formerly male-dominated disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

To create a competent domestic workforce, the Kingdom has established several projects to support human capital development in various industries, including energy, engineering, technology, construction, manufacturing, artificial intelligence, research, and innovation.

To diversify the economy of the Kingdom away from oil and improve the general quality of life, Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform agenda includes a plan to level the playing field and enable the most qualified applicants to advance in the workforce.

Since these reforms encourage women to enter the labor market and preserve their rights in previously male-dominated fields, women are now more involved than ever in the public and private sectors and civil society.

Saudi women are pursuing careers as astronauts, engineers, architects, mechanics, soldiers, and cybersecurity experts. Many more people are joining the creative industries and exposing the outside world to the history and culture of the Kingdom.

A major tenet of this leveling of the playing field has been education. Nearly all adults and all young people in Saudi Arabia can now read and write, making the country nearly literate.

The number of young individuals enrolling in top-notch academic university programs has dramatically increased in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia spends much of its GDP – more than the global average — on education.

Through the Ministry of Education and other programs, thousands of students have obtained scholarships to some of the best universities in the world, returning home with the knowledge and abilities to support the development of a contemporary, dynamic, and diversified economy.

Dr. Amal Shugair, deputy minister for scholarships at the Kingdom's Ministry of Education, told Arab News that the majors in the scholarship program are based on the prevailing needs of the local job market.

Before today, Saudi women could now work in subjects like technology and space exploration.

According to Shugair, the Ministry of Education coordinates its research with those of other departments and ministries every year to meet the demand for specialized knowledge and skills.

"Women made up about 40% of this year's scholarship recipients. It's the largest yet since the launch of the scholarship program," she remarked. "The ministry chooses the top 200 colleges in the world across a range of disciplines to meet the demands of the Saudi labor market and provide additional options for everyone.

We've restricted student enrollment in master's and doctoral programs to certain subjects and majors based on recommendations from the Kingdom's Research Development and Innovation Authority because of the demand from the market.

The ministry's objective for the following ten years is to empower and assist some members of society in providing equal opportunities for men and women through various programs, such as putting university students through internship or co-op training programs at businesses before they graduate.

The 2022 approach differed from earlier strategies in that it emphasized the quality of the results more than the quantity (number of pupils), according to Shugair. "Our goal is for kids to enroll in the top 30 colleges in the world, which are exceptional universities."

Although the number of female doctors and scientists continues to grow in Saudi Arabia, Shugair noted that the thinking had changed for many as they aspire to major in subjects blocked off to past generations.

According to Shugair, "women today are thinking more strategically, seeking avenues which can assist them and help them flourish given the opportunities.

They are initially moving toward their futures and have lost their fear of the unknown.

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