Facts about women in universities in Iran

It has recently been reported in the English-language news that women have been barred from many degree programs in Iran. This is true. But there is much misinformation surrounding it. We should not be surprised at the level of disinformation; after all, it comes from Shirin Ebadi, one of the worst fraudsters ever seen from Iran. She received a Nobel Prize, by the way, by being a disingenuous, lying gender ideologue. As I explain the situation more deeply, you will see how easy it was for her to bring about lies and disinformation—and that if she has the chance to do it again, you can bet that she will.

There are two major types of universities in Iran: Sarasari and Azad.

Sarasari universities are government-funded and are free of charge. They are much more prestigious and heavily equipped than Azad universities. All students in Iran prefer to go to Sarasari universities. Every major city has at least one such university; all the most prominent universities in Iran are in this category, such as Sharif University of Technology, the University or Tehran, Shiraz University, and the University of Isfahan, to name a few.

On the other hand, Azad universities make students hemorrhage money. In Iran, when a family wants to say how much they are under pressure financially, they say that they have a kid (usually a daughter) who is going to an Azad university. The facilities resemble preschools more than real universities. You can be a professor at an Azad university just with a master’s degree (seriously). I have had many students who go to Azad universities. I teach them math. I expect a high school student to know much more about math than an average person graduated in math from an Azad university. Okay, I know, not all Azad students are like that, but they mostly are.

You might ask why such universities exist. Because it’s a prestige thing. It has nothing to do with knowledge or jobs. Chances of finding a job related to your field of study with a degree from an Azad university are extremely low; but everybody wants to say that they are engineers or doctors. So we invest heavily in making it possible for people with IQs of 70 to easily get a doctorate from an Azad university. It is not an education system; it is an education market.

One thing that is much related to all of this is Iran’s rate of population growth. After the revolution, the rate was extremely high, and right now we have passed the youth population peak. Meanwhile, the capacity of admission into universities has increased drastically during the past two decades. What it all means is that those 18-year-olds who took the university entrance exam 20 years ago were competing with 1.5 million other applicants for only around 80,000 seats in Sarasari universities. Ten years ago, you would be competing against 1.1 million others for around 130,000 seats in Sarasari universities and around 400,000 seats in Azad universities. Right now this year, the number of seats in the universities is higher than the number of those who want to attend universities! So first of all, women are not banned from university. Virtually everybody goes to university. We are at the point that you can go to an Azad university without even taking the university entrance exams, even for a PhD degree. Just pay the money and they will let you in.

Now we know enough so that I can explain the disingenuous or outright lies of Shirin Ebadi, namely her two claims that: 1) women are banned from university (the truth is something else entirely); and 2) women outperform men and are in general more educated than men.

A quote from the article:

“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.”

One of the things Ebadi loves to brag about in every article and speech of hers is this: women outperform men in universities in Iran … 65% of those accepted in universities are women …

Do girls really outperform boys? I don’t think so! It’s the kind of thing you can only sell to those outside of Iran; to me, who has been to the most prominent universities here, that is an outright lie.

Let’s start by the fact that 55% to 60% of those who take the university entrance exam are female. So just by stating this fact, the end result is now one step further from the apparent notion that women are superior to men in universities because they attend it 1.5 times men.

Next, when men do not get accepted in an appropriate field in a Sarasari university, many of them simply do not go to an Azad university where they are accepted because, unlike girls, they have financial burdens and a degree from an Azad university in Iran is not exactly the wisest thing a boy can do with four years of his life. Especially given that the tuition for an Azad university is so backbreaking that it makes no sense to go there for anything other than the prestige of having a diploma. Particularly since he also needs to spend two more years in the military. Speaking of military service, men can only take the university entrance exam up to one year after graduation before being forcibly conscripted, while there is no such limit for women. This especially poses a problem when trying to get accepted for a M.Sc. degree because the first time that you have the chance to take the exam you are still a non-graduated student, which is why people usually get accepted to master’s programs at their second attempt or more.

Anyway, Azad universities are heavily dominated by females, which is as far from women outperforming men as possible (many men simply do not bother with the tuition for a worthless degree although they get accepted). Who pays for all those women who go to Azad universities, by the way? Their fathers (or husbands and sometimes brothers), many of whom work two jobs to pay the tuition.

How about Sarasari universities? Are they dominated by women? No, at least not in a disproportionate manner from the female-to-male ratio of participants in the exam. If you go to the most prominent universities in Iran (such as the Sharif University of Technology), every step of the way men dominate the campus space more. Iranian men also contribute much more to science than Iranian women, although they are given much less chance to do so.

Now we get to the other claim, which is that women are banned from many universities in many of the fields. If one honest person wanted to report the reality, they would have said: Some (of the Sarasari) universities have made some few fields single-gendered. For example, the University of Agriculture and Natural Resources Ramin does not accept any male students in the field of agricultural economy, while Jondi Shapour University, in its mapping branch of civil engineering, accepts only male students.

Iranian University form 1

Iranian University Form 2

Iranian University form 3

Although I oppose this policy myself (because it seems that they want to separate the sexes even more), when they tell half the truth and make it a women’s issue and then blow it out of proportion, I have this to say: Go to another fucking university for this field or go to this university in another fucking field. I just love how this is all a big problem now that the chances of you not getting into university as a female have approached zero, while 20 years ago, when it was extremely difficult to get accepted, girls had quota.

Now let’s look at one of the claims in that article:

Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said “the real agenda was to reduce the proportion of female students to below 50%. …”

Lie. Since all participants in the university entrance exam can get into university since just this year (except for some men who are reluctant to go to an Azad university), the proportion of women in universities cannot possibly go below 58%, which is around the percentage of female participants in the exam. Not to mention how this whole one-sided story was made up.

Not only it is a half-truth that women are banned (men are excluded in the same manner in some universities), but it is also another lie that they are banned from any particular field. If one university excludes one gender in one field, other universities don’t. This means that there is not a single field from which any gender is banned. Furthermore, I actually spent several hours and found the numbers.

The total number of seats in fields where one gender is excluded does not account for even 0.5% of all seats. That is what all the fuss is about: less than 0.5% of seats, usually in not-so-prestigious universities, have been single-gendered, and so Ebadi censors the truth about men.

There is also quota. Some universities have reserved some seats for one gender in some fields. Azad universities, which account for the majority of university students, do not have any quota of any sorts. Some of the Sarasari universities do, however. So I counted these numbers (including single-gendered seats) for First Admission (free of charge) for two of the major fields: math/physics/engineering and humanities. (A cursory glance over the other field, namely medicine and medical fields, shows that women have more quota there, but I didn’t count the actual number.) Here is the result:


I can go on and on and on about other stuff, but I think this response is enough for now, isn’t it?


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