We presented a Poster during the Welcome Reception at HERDSA 2017 Conference. To know more please read on. We invite you to connect with us to find out more about this exiting project.

Exploring career aspirations and pathways for undergraduate design female students in Saudi Arabia

Elke Stracke, University of Canberra; Karin Oerlemans, Kairos Consultancy & Training; Carlos Montana-Hoyos, University of Canberra

dscf2761_2In 2015-2016, we developed a curriculum for an undergraduate Bachelors degree in Industrial Design for the College of Design at a Saudi Arabian University. The curriculum was developed for the first female-only Industrial Design course in Saudi Arabia (SA). The SA University started teaching following this curriculum in September 2016. While the literature provides some information on the restraints and achievements of women in the field of education in SA (Alhareth, Al Dighrir, & Al Alhareth, 2015; Hamdan, 2005), there is need for empirical research that includes the students’ lived experience and their voices. As part of SA’s Vision 2030 (http://www.vision2030.gov.sa) the National Transformation Program 2020 (http://www.vision2030.gov.sa/en/ntp), which was launched in 2016, explicitly mentions the empowerment of women as one of its strategic objectives. The program aims to “[e]mpower women and materialize their potentials” as one of the relevant Vision 2030 objectives, along with job opportunities for men and women in the private and civil service sector. The National Transformation Program also sees the need for the development of particular mechanisms to improve women employability. According to SA’s Vision 2030 women currently represent 22% of the workforce, and the suggested target for 2013 is 30%. This project can make a contribution to these desirable developments.

While this showcase is part of a larger project that evaluates the ongoing evolution of the Industrial Design curriculum during implementation, it aims in particular to understand female design students’ perceptions of their career aspirations and imagined professional pathways. The study draws on (semi-structured) interview data with female students (N = 6-8) at the SA university. The method allows, on the one hand, for a focus on the phenomenon under investigation, and, on the other, for flexibility during the interview process. The thematic analysis is mainly data-driven with the explicit goal to understand the participants’ viewpoints from their perspective. Themes such as career goals, barriers, and strategies to achieve their goals will be discussed in this showcase. To conclude, this study aims to understand curriculum development and transformation for maximum educational advantage of female students in Higher Education in Saudi Arabia.


Al Alhareth, Y., Al Dighrir, I., & Al Alhareth, Y. (2015). Review of women’s higher education in Saudi Arabia. American Journal of Educational Research, 3(1), 10-15. doi: 10.12691/education-3-1-3.\

Hamdan, A. (2005). Women and education in Saudi Arabia: Challenges and achievements. International Education Journal, 2005, 6(1), 42-64.

Montana-Hoyos, C., Stracke, E., Oerlemans, K., Pianca, E., & Trathen, S. (2016). Curriculum in progress: Developing an Industrial Design programme for female students in Saudi Arabia. In: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E & PDE 16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity (pp. 210-215). Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016.

Image and text Copyright ©2017 Stracke, Oerlemans & Montana-Hoyos. All rights reserved

HERDSA 2017 Poster

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