Greater numbers of women are entering workplaces in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. Structural features of patriarchy are changing in Middle Eastern societies and workplaces, but women’s experiences of gendered segregation, under-representation and exclusion raise questions around the feminist politics and ethics mobilized to respond to them. Building on and extending emerging research on feminism, gender, resistance, feminist ethics and the Middle East, we use data from an interview study with 58 Saudi Arabian women to explore their attitudes toward gender-segregated and mixed workplaces. We develop a novel conceptualization of how gender is experienced through patternings of resistance and conformity shaped by the ethicopolitical, religiopolitical and sociocultural webs of meaning in Saudi society that permeate workplaces. Saudi women’s attitudes and actions in the workplace are neither entirely individual and private nor entirely collective and public, but made up of nuanced commitments and resistances to context-relevant identity issues. We discuss implications of our fndings for the feminist ethics and politics of gendered resistance and conformity to working practices and norms in Islamic and Middle Eastern settings.
- the Middle East
- Saudi Arabia