For the coming academic year, 36 Iranian universities have closed 77 academic fields to women, including computer science, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, agricultural engineering, and electrical engineering. Dr. Shirin Ebadi, a Human Rights Advocate and 2003 Nobel peace prize Laureate, writes in a letter (8/27/12) to the president of UN Women, “The gender segregation policy suggests the imposition of a patriarchal culture that aims to strengthen the role of women at home and within the family unit in order to undermine their important function in society.”
In a discipline that is already lacking women (1 in 10 engineers in the US is a woman, and 17.8% of engineering undergraduate degrees in the US go to women), the implications of other countries enforcing rigid barriers – barring women from these disciplines perpetuates stereotypes and thus the global under-representation of women and ethnicities – other than caucasians – in engineering. I do believe this is a human rights issues for Iranian women, and Dr. Ebadi seems to be working to influence change through her letter and advocacy for women. How can we help?
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Respond to the original post at Peacejam.org, AND share your ideas on how we can help the women in Iran who want to study engineering in the comment section below.