We were pleased to present the following paper at the 6th INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC IDENTITIES CONFERENCE (IAIC) 2018. Held at The Peaceful University: aspirations for academic futures – compassion, generosity, imagination, and creation, Hiroshima University, Japan, 19 September 2018.

You can download a copy of the paper below.

Female university lecturers’ perceptions of their academic practice in Saudi Arabia

Elke Stracke, University of Canberra, Australia
Karin Oerlemans, Kairos Consultancy and Training/University of Canberra, Australia
Carlos Montana-Hoyos, Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, United Arab Emirates


In a cross-cultural collaborative project, an Australian and a Saudi Arabian university collaboratively developed the curriculum for a Bachelor of Industrial Design program at a women-only College of Design in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Authors, 2016; in press). The course is the first female-only Industrial Design course in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi 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 Saudi Arabia (Alhareth, Al Dighrir, & Al Alhareth, 2015; Hamdan, 2005), there is a need for empirical research that includes the women’s lived experience and their voices. As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 the National Transformation Program 2020, which was launched in 2016, explicitly mentions the empowerment of women as one of its strategic objectives.

While this research is part of a larger study that evaluates the ongoing evolution of the Industrial Design curriculum during implementation, this paper focuses on the perceptions of the female lecturers and their academic practice in the programme. These women are part of the growing female workforce in Saudi Arabia. They are from diverse backgrounds and include Saudi women and women from other countries. We conducted semi-structured interviews (N = 8) with them to understand how they enacted the new curriculum and analyzed the data thematically. In this paper, we explore salient and diverse themes such as the transition from non-academic work into academia, impact of gender segregation, or language choice in the classroom.

We conclude this presentation with a personal reflection of the value of the cross-cultural collaborative project for the Australian team, our experience and learning as academics, and impact on our own academic practice and identity.


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

Authors (2016). Curriculum in progress: Developing an Industrial Design programme for female students in Saudi Arabia. 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Aalborg University, Denmark, 8-9 September.

Authors (2018). Cross-cultural collaboration for curriculum development of the first women-only Industrial Design program in Saudi Arabia. The International Journal of Design Education, 12 (4): 11-22.

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

Download Presentation Here

Please cite as:

Stracke, E., Oerlemans, K., & Montana Hoyos, C. (2018). Female university lecturers’ perceptions of their academic practice in Saudi Arabia. Paper presentation for the 6th International Academic Identities Conference (IAIC) 2018 Conference, The Peaceful University: aspirations for academic futures – compassion, generosity, imagination, and creation, Hiroshima University, Japan, September 19, 2018.

Copyright © Elke Stracke, K. Oerlemans, & Carlos Montana Hoyos, 2018

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