Girls' and Women's Education

In 1957, the Dar al-Hanan and Nassif private schools for girls opened in the city of Jeddah. The openings were prompted by Iffat, the wife of Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Afterwards the Saudi government began opening state-operated girls schools. Religious fundamentalists protested the openings of the schools. In 1963 King Faisal brought soldiers to control protesters when a girls' school opened in Buraydah. During Saudi Arabia's first oil boom many Saudi males who studied abroad brought foreign wives back to Saudi Arabia. This caused concern among Saudi fathers with daughters eligible for marriage. In the late 1970s the Saudi government greatly increased university spots for women in order to make Saudi women more desirable as wives for educated Saudi men.

The General Administration of Girls' Education (also called the General Presidency for Girls' Education) was established independently from the Ministry of Education when girls education was started in Saudi Arabia 1960. Girls education was put under the control of a separate administration controlled by conservative clerics as "a compromise to calm public opposition to allowing (not requiring) girls to attend school".

60% of university students in Saudi Arabia are Saudi females. In Saudi Arabia, women in the labor force are mainly in the education sector. The first group of women graduated from a law program in 2008. On 6 October 2013, the first four women received their legal licences to practice law, not only as legal consultants but as lawyers in courtrooms and before the Saudi judiciary.

According to the World Bank report, female students in higher education in Saudi Arabia out number those in Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and West Bank and Gaza.

According to the World Bank, gross enrollment rate for female is 36.1 percent, gross enrollment rate for male is 24.7 percent, and gross enrollment rate for total was 30.2 percent in 2006. There are thousands of female professors throughout Saudi Arabia.

Around 2009, an expert on girls' education became the first woman minister in Saudi Arabia. Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez, a US-educated former teacher, was made deputy education minister in charge of a new department for female students. In addition, Saudi Arabia provides female students with one of the world's largest scholarship programs. By this program, thousands of women have earned doctorates from Western universities.

The building of colleges and universities for women, which was recently announced by the government, is critically important. Women comprise 60% of Saudi Arabia's college students but only 21% of its labor force, much lower than in neighboring countries. 85% of employed Saudi women work in education, 6% in public health, and 95% in the public sector. Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University (PNU) is the first women's university in Saudi Arabia and largest women-only university in the world, composed of 32 campuses across the Riyadh region.