Rediscover STEAM
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Rediscover STEAM

Arab Women Are Breaking the Glass Ceiling in STEM

Happy National Arab American Heritage Month! In the Middle East, women earn more science and mathematics degrees per capita than their counterparts in both the United States and Europe. UNESCO estimates up to 57% of all STEM graduates in Arab countries are women.

Women in STEM in countries like Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates test higher, feel more comfortable in math than men, and do not feel intimidated to say they like STEM-related subjects.

UNESCO estimates that women comprise as many as 60% of engineering students in the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf. Some other powerful statistics include:

  • 40% of women graduating from engineering classes in Kuwait are women.
  • 32% percent of engineering students in Bahrain are women.
  • UAE women’s enrollments in engineering increased from 2.9% in 2012 to 24.9% in 2015.
  • In Saudi Arabia, graduation rates for women in engineering have risen from 1% in 2000 to 10% in 2011, and 80% of female students show interest in engineering.

Here are 5 Arab women in STEM you should know about:

Sarah Al Amiri

Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri is the Minister of State for Advanced Technology in the government of the United Arab Emirates, and she serves as Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency and the Emirates Council of Scientists. Al Amiri is a leading contributor to the UAE’s space program and was named to BBC’s 100 Women and Time 100.

Halima Alnaqbi

Halima Alnaqbi is a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student at Khalifa University, driving innovation in genetics. Her research aims to improve existing organ and bone marrow transplantation systems to better serve her people. She was chosen as the honorary recipient of the first For Women in Science Young Talents Awards Ceremony for MENA, an initiative by L’Oréal and UNESCO to recognize the work of 14 Arab female scientists.

Dana Salloum

Dana Salloum is the Communications Director of Boeing for the India, Middle East, Africa and Turkey (METIA) region. She is helping pave the way for women in aviation and is an avid supporter of programs focused on sustainable community development.

Rana el Kaliouby

Rana el Kaliouby is an Egyptian-American computer scientist, AI thought leader, angel investor, and entrepreneur working to humanize technology. She served as Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spin-off, before it was acquired by Smart Eye, the global leader in Human Insight AI, of which she is now Deputy CEO. el Kaliouby is also an executive fellow at the Harvard Business School and author of Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology.

Huda Ahli

Huda Ahli is a champion of sustainable engineering and renewable energy and a Ph.D. candidate at Imperial College. She was chosen to represent her country at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference and co-founded UAE Stem in the UK to empower other Emirati students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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Natasha Matta

Natasha Matta

Interested in all things health equity, social justice, and empowerment.