Saudi women's leadership experiences in the healthcare sector: A qualitative study
Background Gender equality in the workforce and the promotion of woman leadership is critical to economic growth and the sustainable development of society and the global community. However, gender diversity in leadership positions is a concern as women continue to be underrepresented. Ensuring equal opportunities in leadership positions in the health sector can help advance the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Purpose The aim of this study was to explore Saudi women's perspectives and leadership experiences at senior-level positions in the healthcare sector. Methods A descriptive qualitative approach was adopted to address the study aim. This included nine semi-structured interviews with Saudi women who have held leadership positions in the health sector over the past ten years. Reflexive thematic analysis was conducted by adopting the six phases. Results The results showed that internal factors, such as qualifications, experience, and the innate qualities of a winner, are the most important factors that contribute to women's leadership. Women's role expectations, gender norms, and the patriarchal nature of the community have a negative impact on women's leadership. One of the new findings of this study was negative attitudes and lack of support from female colleagues. Conclusion Women leaders in health care in Saudi Arabia share similarities and differences with women leaders around the world. However, the Saudi community has its own social norms and gender roles that cannot be denied. While Vision 2030 brought a number of positive changes in women's empowerment that participants spoke of, more research is needed to explore men's perceptions, which can complete the picture and lead to organizational improvement and changes.
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