A conference in Buraidah on employment in the Kingdom brought up some of the obstacles facing women seeking jobs. A particularly interesting bit:
“We see thousands of foreign women working in health care and other sectors while Saudi women await in long queues for jobs,” said Dr. Rafeeqa Al-Dakhil, a delegate attending the forum.
The fact that it's ok for foreign women to work in these sectors but it's so difficult for Saudi women to do so underlines the idea that it isn't about inherent gender differences but about the proprietary way that "our women" are viewed by so many men the world over. It seems like an outgrowth of the virgin/whore dichotomy, or the "girls you sleep with vs. girls you marry" idea. (Though American women do not suffer from the same obstacles to entering the workforce, we certainly do face the challenge of walking the line between "marriageable" and "sexy", or the consequences of rejecting that dichotomy completely).