Publication Date

July 2023


The participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforces is overwhelmingly low as compared to their male counterparts. The low uptake of cybersecurity careers has been documented in the previous studies conducted in the contexts of the West and Eastern worlds. However, most of the past studies mainly covered the Western world leaving more knowledge gaps in the context of Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia. Thus, to fill the existing knowledge gaps, the current study focused on women in Saudi Arabia. The aim of the study was to investigate the factors behind the underrepresentation of Saudi women in the cybersecurity space by specifically targeting the existing socio-cultural barriers. The study used a qualitative design that entailed reliance on both primary interview data and additional evidence from prior literature to evaluate the barriers faced by Saudi women in cybersecurity. A sample of 15 Saudi women aged 18 – 30 years with a college education or still in college pursuing a course in IT (Information Technology) or had basic computer literacy skills was purposefully recruited as the most desirable participants. A thematic analysis process was conducted on the primary data to generate theory from the findings, further compared with and verified based on a critical literature review. The themes that were generated from the interviews include lack of autonomy, family responsibilities, female as the weaker gender, and child bearing and caring duties.