New limits on women’s access to education in Iran

Women have achieved great educational attainment in Iran, and currently make up about 60% of univeristy students, but new restrictions seem to be aimed at undercutting this.

More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses.

These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business.

While only some of Iran’s universities have actually instituted the limits, this will surely have more wide-ranging effects, as women interested in the relevant majors will be competing for spots at other universities. It’s unclear why the limits have been instituted, but several news sources have cited the Iranian administration’s concern about declining birth rates and the prominent role women played in the Tehran protests.

Read more here.

3 thoughts on “New limits on women’s access to education in Iran

  1. Having been to Iran a few times, I am not sure I would call the proportion of female students a “great educational attainment”.
    – In the social sciences, the degrees are more and more worthless as the Islamization of the curricula continues (
    – Young women study because it’s the only way to leave the parents’ house. Iranian girls can’t just move out and move together with a boyfriend, so either they get married young or they study in a different city (and even then they often have to stay with relatives there).
    – Female unemployment or underemployment after graduation is rampant. I have met many female shopkeepers or taxi drivers who had degrees in literature or history or translation. Business and government are still dominated by males, with pretty much the same exceptions like in the West: primary education and nursing/midwifery.

  2. To be more accurate, the restrictions are on both men and women’s access to majors. It is, of course, gender discrimination. However, the goal is “single-gendering” of admissions, and it varies by university. In some cases, it looks to me to be closer to what we’d call “occupational segregation.” In others, it looks as though it is a matter of trying to gender balance, though. Looking at all the news articles on this, I found the one linked to at the inflammatory, fact-free end of the spectrum. One should keep in mind that there are some who wish to wage war on Iran, and that might play a role in how these things are presented in some news outlets.

    What about majoring in philosophy in Iran? It’s interesting. In the Human Rights Watch news announcement of today: ” ‘Single-gendering’ also restricts choices for male students. For example, at Esfahan University men are no longer allowed to major in history, linguistics, theology, applied chemistry, Arabic/Persian language and literature, sociology, and philosophy.” ( )

  3. Andreas, I didn’t mean that purely the number of female students equals great educational attainment, but rather the proportion of women overall who are entering and completing degree programs. Underemployment is surely an issue, but that’s a distinct (though related in some respects) issue from how many women are receiving degrees.

    sgssgssgs– that’s really interesting. I looked at a few articles last night about this, and none of them had pointed to limits on male students’ access. Thanks!

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