According to Saadia Zahidi’s new book Fifty Million Rising, at least a third of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) trained talent across the Middle East are female. In Iran, nearly 70% of university graduates in STEM are women — a higher percentage than in any other country. And in Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), each country boasts over 60% female graduates in science, still more than the rest of the world.
“The Muslim world has put high investment in education, and the payoff is coming now,” says Zahidi, a World Economic Forum executive who works in gender equality initiatives. A report from McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace indicates that participation between genders could produce 47% economic growth in the Middle East. Currently, about 30% of women in the Middle East work full-time.