Gender and Science in the Arab States: Current Status and Future Prospects

  • Saouma BouJaoudeEmail author
  • Ghada Gholam
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 8)


The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the status of science education in the Arab states and to analyze problems of access and quality with a focus on the status of women in science education and the sociocultural factors that constrain their ability to go beyond a certain stage in development and role in society. This analysis adopts a sociocultural perspective which maintains that behavior and mental processes are shaped not only by prior learning experiences and other internal psychological processes but also by the prevailing social and cultural context. Finally, the analysis is conducted in light of the pressing need in Arab states to prepare all citizens – not only the fortunate ones who receive quality education – to be scientifically and technologically literate in order for them to succeed in a world that is becoming a global village, where competition is extremely high and knowledge is being produced at such a high rate that catching up is extremely difficulty even for people who are highly educated.


Science Education Saudi Arabia Arab Country Career Guidance Sociocultural Factor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to acknowledge the support of Ms. Christine Asaad and Ms. Dina Selim during the writing of this chapter.


  1. AED. (2009). AED uses social media to show that science is ‘a girl thing’. Retrieved from
  2. Ambusaidi, A., & Elzain, M. (2008). The science curriculum in Omani schools: Past, present and future. In R. Coll & N. Taylor (Eds.), Science education in context (pp. 85–97). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. BouJaoude, S. (2002). Balance of scientific literacy themes in science curricula: The case of Lebanon. International Journal of Science Education, 24, 139–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. BouJaoude, S. (2006). Bridging the gap between scientists and science educators in the Arab Region. Report presented at the Expert Group Meeting on “Bridging the Gap between Scientists and Science Educators”, organized and sponsored by the UNESCO Office, Cairo, Egypt, from January 29 – February 1, 2006. (An executive summary of this article appeared in a UNESCO Cairo Office document with the same title.)Google Scholar
  5. BouJaoude, S., & Dagher, Z. (2009). Introduction: Science education in Arab states. In S. BouJaoude & Z. Dagher (Eds.), The world of science education: Arab states (pp. 1–8). Rotterdam. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. BouJaoude. (2010). Competencies and educational structures needed to prepare secondary students for the 21st century. Paper presented at a symposium organized by the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates in cooperation with the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, February 24, 2010.Google Scholar
  7. Brand, B. R., Glasson, G. E., & Green, A. M. (2006). Socio-cultural factors influencing students’ learning in science and mathematics: An analysis of the perspectives of African American students. School Science and Mathematics, 106(5), 228–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carter, L. (2007). Socio-cultural influences on science education: Innovation for contemporary times. Science Education, 92, 165–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cowie, B. (2005). Student commentary on classroom assessment in science: A sociocultural interpretation. International Journal of Science Education, 27(2), 199–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dagher, Z. (2009). Epistemology of science in curriculum standards of four Arab countries. In S. BouJaoude & Z. Dagher (Eds.), The world of science education: Arab states (pp. 41–60). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Dagher, Z., & BouJaoude, S. (2011). Science education in Arab states: Bright future or status quo? Studies in Science Education, 47, 73–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Else-Quest, N., Hyde, J., & Linn, M. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136(1), 103–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greaney, V., & Kellaghan, T. (1995, March). Equity issues in public examinations in developing countries (World Bank Technical Paper Number 272). World Bank Publications, Retrieved from
  14. Hammoud, H. (2005). Illiteracy in the Arab world: Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006. Retrieved from The data were compiled from EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005
  15. Haste, H. (2004). Science in my future: A study of values and beliefs in relation to science and technology amongst 11–21 year olds. London: Nestle Social Research Programme.Google Scholar
  16. Innabi, H., & Dodeen, H. (2006). Content analysis of gender-related differential item functioning TIMSS items in mathematics in Jordan. School Science and Mathematics, 106(8), 328–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Islam, S. (2007). Women in science: The regional perspective. Paper presented at the International Conference on Women Leaders in Science, Technology and Engineering, Kuwait, January 2007. Retrieved from
  18. Jordanian Ministry of Education. (2003). General framework: Curriculum and assessment. Amman: Author.Google Scholar
  19. Koushki, P. A., Al-Sanad, H. A., & Larkin, A. M. (1999, January). Women engineers in Kuwait: Perception of gender bias. Journal of Engineering Education, 88, 93–97.Google Scholar
  20. Lemke, J. L. (2001). Articulating communities: Socio-cultural perspectives on science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3), 296–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Loughborough University – United Kingdom. (2000). Barriers to tertiary education. opportunity. Retrieved from
  22. National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). Program for international student assessment (PISA). Retrieved from
  23. Nour, S. (2003, December 16–18). Science and Technology (S & T) Development Indicators in the Arab Region: A comparative study of Arab Gulf and Mediterranean countries. Paper Submitted for the ERF 10th Annual Conference, Morocco.Google Scholar
  24. Queen's University. (2007, March 13). Palestinian girls living in war zones outperform boys academically. Retrieved from
  25. Robbins, J. (2005). ‘Brown Paper Packages’? A sociocultural perspective on young children’s ideas in science. Research in Science Education, 35, 151–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sjøberg, S., & Schreiner, C. (2005). How do learners in different cultures relate to science and technology? Asia‐Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 1–17.Google Scholar
  27. Spelke, E. S. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science? A critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. UNDP. (2002). Arab human development report 2002. New York, NY: Author.Google Scholar
  29. UNDP. (2006). Towards the rise of women in the Arab World, Arab human development report 2005. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  30. UNDP/RBAS. (2002). Creating opportunities for future generations. Arab human development report 2002. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  31. UNDP/RBAS. (2003). Building a knowledge society. Arab human development report 2003. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  32. UNESCO. (1999). Women, science and technology towards a new development. Retrieved from
  33. UNESCO. (2004). Arab network for women in science and technology (ANWST). Retrieved from
  34. UNESCO. (2008a). EFA global monitoring report 2008: Education for all by 2015 will we make it? Retrieved from
  35. UNESCO. (2008b). Improving science education in the Arab States: Lessons learned from education practices in four developed countries. Retrieved from
  36. UNESCO. (2010a). UNESCO world science report 2010: The current status of science around the world. Retrieved from
  37. UNESCO. (2010b). Education for all global monitoring report: Reaching the marginalized. Retrieved from
  38. UNESCO. (2011). EFA Global Monitoring Report: The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education. Retrieved from
  39. UNICEF. (2003). The state of the world’s children 2004. New York: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  40. UNICEF. (2005). Progress for children: A report card on gender parity and primary education. Retrieved from
  41. University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. (2008, September 8). Tracking the reasons many girls avoid science and math. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 4, 2011, from
  42. USAID. (2008). Education from a gender equality perspective. Retrieved from
  43. Valverde, G. (2005). Curriculum Policy seen through high-stakes examinations: Mathematics and biology in a selection of school leaving examinations from the Middle East and North Africa. Peabody Journal of Education, 80, 29–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Von Secker, C. E., & Lissitz, R. W. (1999). Estimating the impact of instructional practices on student achievement in science. School Science and Mathematics, 36(10), 1110–1126.Google Scholar
  45. World Bank. (2008). The road not traveled: Education reform in the Middle East and North Africa. Retrieved from
  46. World Bank. (2011). Learning for all: Investing in people’s knowledge and skills to promote development. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education and Science and Math Education CenterAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.UNESCO Cairo OfficeCairoEgypt

Personalised recommendations