Thursday, August 23, 2012

Archaeology! Not a field for women in Iran.

by Salman Hameed

This is really bizarre. The Iranian government has decided to bar women from taking certain courses. It seems that one-half of the Iranian population was getting well-educated and the other half feared that they will be left behind. So, of course, the obvious solution is to restrict access to education:

In a move that has prompted a demand for a UN investigation by Iran's most celebrated human rights campaigner, the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, 36 universities have announced that 77 BA and BSc courses in the coming academic year will be "single gender" and effectively exclusive to men. 
It follows years in which Iranian women students have outperformed men, a trend at odds with the traditional male-dominated outlook of the country's religious leaders. Women outnumbered men by three to two in passing this year's university entrance exam. 
Senior clerics in Iran's theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.
And what subjects will bar women?
Under the new policy, women undergraduates will be excluded from a broad range of studies in some of the country's leading institutions, including English literature, English translation, hotel management, archaeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management.
Yes - we don't need women in those fields. What do they know about atoms and nuclei? Or about circuits and literature? Oh - but they definitely don't know about oil:
The Oil Industry University, which has several campuses across the country, says it will no longer accept female students at all, citing a lack of employer demand. Isfahan University provided a similar rationale for excluding women from its mining engineering degree, claiming 98% of female graduates ended up jobless.
Yikes! But in Iran's defense, their chief rival is Saudi Arabia - and it is hard to keep up with their misogynistic laws. This is the regional misogyny arms race.

Read the full article here.

By the way, this reminded me of the gender-based quota system that Pakistan used to have for admission into medical colleges. The score requirement for female students used to be 7-8 percentage points higher than the male students. However, in the mid-80s, a lawsuit was filed against this gender discrimination, and the courts ruled in favor of gender equity. That tilted the ratio of students decidedly in favor of females. I think it was fantastic that the courts didn't buy into the arguments that "women just get married and don't become professionals".

I hope the Iranian government reverses this idiotic decision.


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