Iran Bans Women From 77 Different College Majors

In Iran, more than 30 universities have banned women from taking classes in 77 different subjects.


Just because. So stop questioning the judgment of the religious leaders. Heathen.

No official reason has been given for the restrictions to courses…

Banned courses include nuclear physics, computer science and English literature.

The US-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the restrictions extended a creeping “Islamicisation” of Iran’s universities that have been imposed under president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi says it is part of a policy to weaken women’s role in Iranian society.

“The Iranian government is using various, different initiatives to restrict women’s access to education and to return them to the home to weaken the feminist movement in the country,” she [said].

Jezebel points out that it wasn’t always this bad:

Iran was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to give women access to university studies, and since 1979 has encouraged women to get a higher education. But it appears that officials think it’s gone too far: as of 2001, women officially outnumbered men in the Iranian college student body for the first time, a statistic that’s now up to 60% female.

It’s not just that the ratio will revert back in favor of men — college was the route many Iranian women took to escape from home and a life that was already planned out for them. Now, you have government officials playing the role of bad parents, telling the women what they are and are not allowed to study. It’s bad precedent and it shows no sign of getting better anytime soon.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Rich Wilson

    Mr Daneshjou dismissed Western criticism of Iran’s steps, saying: “The angrier Western media gets, the more we realise we are moving in the right direction.”

    It’s not Western media they need to be concerned with.  It’s Iranian women tired of being treated like second class citizens.  It won’t last.

  • Richard Wade

    This is tragic for the individual women who want to make their best contribution to their society, and it’s also tragic for humanity in general to neglect thousands of minds that could be of great value to the whole world.

    For people and governments that don’t want Iran to succeed, this is great.

    If Iran wants to rob itself of half of its geniuses, half of its best scientists, half of its most meticulous scholars, half of its best business talent, and half of its most creative artists, then at the very most they will be only half as prosperous as they otherwise would be. The rest of the world will leave behind in the dust the misogynistic cultures that waste half of their human treasure.

    This should also be a warning to Westerners that it is quite possible for any country and any culture to succumb to the siren of religion’s retrogressive song, and willfully and heedlessly turn around and walk back into the past. Right now, the United States is losing its leadership in science, math and technology because nearly half of its population rejects science in general because it doesn’t confirm their ancient creation myth. A huge number of strong young American minds, both boys and girls are being turned away from science. In this world, if you’re not busy going forward into the future, you’re busy slipping into the past.

  • Mike

    I see a positive side to this. If this is a reaction to 60% of college enrolments being by women, it will not be long (best efforts of the misogynist muppets in power in Iran notwithstanding) before there is a well-educated female population…who will not put up with their nonsense for ever.

  • machintelligence

    The rest of the world will leave behind in the dust the misogynistic cultures that waste half of their human treasure.

    We already have. The only reason these Mideast countries have the standard of living that they do is because they are sitting over huge oil reserves, which they lack the technology to extract. Western nations have to do it for them.  Also, their nuclear programs are not domestic, but done with foreign equipment and know how. (The Iranians are currently accusing the Germans of supplying them with sabotaged centrifuges, when the most likely explanation is shoddy maintenance.)

      Right now, the United States is losing its leadership in science, math and technology because nearly half of its population rejects science in general because it doesn’t confirm their ancient creation myth.

    This is not entirely true. In the mid 20th century we imported a lot of scientists, first Jews fleeing the Nazis (like Einstein) and then after the war, rocket scientists (like von Braun). We also had the advantage that our nation and its industrial base were not in ruins, unlike much of Europe. That and the GI bill, which promoted higher education for veterans, account for much of our leadership.

  • Don Gwinn

    It’s tantrum thinking, very common to children and politicians.  “You don’t like what I’m doing to women?  Then I’ll do it *harder*!  I’ll show *you*!”

    “But . . . . you’re showing me by hurting yourself.  My country isn’t suffering because of what you’re doing.  YOUR country will suffer for it.”

    No different than the students who assure me that they’ll never do their math work because I’m mean.  OK, you’re the boss, kid, but I learned all that stuff a long time ago.  I want to see you succeed, but you can’t actually hurt me by failing.

  • Rich Wilson

    The USA has the highest college dropout rate in the industrialized world.

  • metaphid

    Particularly unfortunate given that all these women would need is a mortarboard and they’d be dressed for a graduation procession. 

  • NewDawn2006

    Well, we wouldn’t want all those women going out and getting an education and becoming thinking, reasoning, and active members of society who will figure out that the Iranian government is full of shit, would we?

  • nakedanthropologist

    Not necessarily – Saudi Arabian women outnumber men when it comes to degrees in higher education and their rights are extremely restricted.  I agree with Wade (above) in that they are damaging themselves, but that does not necessarily mean that women in Iran will push back; laws and punishments tend to be harsher for women in theocracies and in the Middle East.

  • Gringa

     I think it’s more likely that the educated women will leave for greener pastures rather than stay and fight in a country where they are likely to be stoned for doing so.

  • JWH

    Didn’t Ayatollah Khomeini argue that all men and women should be educated?  

  • COHikerGirl

    You have their best interests at heart, I can tell, but what you perhaps need to realize are the extremely limited opportunities women in Iran have for either (1) leaving the country, or (2) effectively fighting from within it.  With regard to emigration:  First, only those of a sufficiently wealthy class have the resources to finance it.  Second, among *those*, only the women who have sufficient individual control of personal resources can manage it.  Equally significantly, there are all the same ties of heart and hearth and home that prevent anyone from wanting to leave friends, family, and a familiar (though trying) environment.  With regard to fighting from within:  Iran is not ruled uncontested by far Talibani-like hardliner extremists (though they of course exist there and exert power through intimidation/physical force).  It still has a fair-sized though muzzled/ineffectual reformist set among its clerics and politicians … unfortunately, so ineffectual that the reformists have lost active support from moderate citizens who, often, no longer think it worth backing them given the limited results.  Still, though random beatings in the street by hardliner thugs isn’t rare, actual stoning isn’t remotely as likely as in other more backward parts of the Islamic world.  Yet.     But the primary point is that women are reigned in on all sides by both overt and subtle bars … from strong social convention to both religious and civil law, something as (not-)subtle as highly inconvenient clothing requirements. Without active, overt, and principled, honest support by modern-minded men at their sides, the women alone will be sorely hampered in achieving meaningful change.