Greater Coordination Among Industry, Academia and Government Needed to Boost Women in Tech
Report cites potential 12% GDP growth in UAE resulting from better integration of women in STE fields
The Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) yesterday hosted a roundtable discussion in Abu Dhabi on the integration of women in the UAE’s growing technology-relevant industries. The event began with the launch of an ATIC-sponsored report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled UAE Economic Vision: Women in Science, Technology and Engineering (STE), which contrasts the success of women in the UAE’s education system with the challenges that remain towards effective integration in the workforce.
“The research shows good progress for women in the workplace, specifically in STE-related fields, but there are still significant opportunities for improvement,” said Hanan Harhara, head of Human Capital at ATIC. “This report and roundtable discussion address key hurdles women in the region are facing in integrating into the STE workplace with recommendations, clear objectives and next steps.”
Following the launch of the research report, more than 30 government, industry and academic stakeholders came together to address key areas of need identified. The participants included male and female entrepreneurs, teachers, program managers and engineers, each offering their unique perspective while driving discussion to set objectives across the following areas: taking active measures to create passion in young Emiratis for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); creating more female role models and mentors; bringing relevant education and jobs to rural regions; fostering a work environment that is more supportive of UAE women.
The report notes that women have reversed a gender gap in the academic world, and are now broadly outperforming men in STEM subjects. On the professional front, progress has been made, but women still make up less than half the UAE’s workforce. Those surveyed in the report highlight that obstacles to effective integration in the workforce include maternity leave, child care and culture norms.
To address the areas of need identified in the EIU report, the roundtable working groups aligned on the following objectives:
• Establish a regular government, academic and industry platform to share best practices and coordinate efforts towards building youth excitement in STEM subjects.
• Reinforce programs to educate and engage teachers and parents on how to get students excited about STEM in a meaningful way. Support these programs with an online resource allowing easy access to fun and relevant STEM program materials.
• Establish a structured role model system focused on successful females in the STE workplace.
Across the Mubadala group of companies, a range of initiatives are in place to increase participation in STEM industries:
• Weyana, Mubadala’s youth platform, was created to inspire and prepare UAE nationals to participate in the country’s future, and raise awareness of the opportunities available. Driving interest in science and technology is a key component.
• The Global Aerospace Ambassadors Program will focus on workforce development and how to encourage young Emiratis to choose careers in the aerospace, defense and space industries.
• At Strata, Mubadala’s wholly owned composite aerostructures manufacturing company, more than a quarter of Strata employees are women, with Emirati women making up about 80% of UAE nationals on the workforce.
• The Al Nokhba program is empowering young Emiratis with the global experience needed to lead in advanced technology-driven industries through scholarships at top tier institutions and internships at GLOBALFOUNDRIES plants in Germany, Singapore and the United States.
UAE Economic Vision: Women in science, technology and engineering is available free of charge at: