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Women make up 54% of new students entering Iranian universities (mehrnews.com)
98 points by baylearn 31 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments

Two months ago I went to a journey called the 'Mongol Rally' which is basically a race when you need to drive from the Czech Republic to Mongolia in a shitty car

Because I'm from Israel my team couldn't get into Iran but other teams got into Iran and all of them were extremely surprised.

Iranians know how to welcome tourists, they were extremely friendly, the food is delicious, the country is beautiful, and many people are open-minded.

The problem in Iran is their politicians and the image created around the radical Iranian regime

More I have studied international relations literacy, more surprised I am of how Iran is misrepresented in public.

Iranian leadership is not crazy group of religious lunatics. Ayatollahs are very conservative group of politicians who use religion for political control. There is nothing there that can't be explained by normal power politics. They have goals and constraints. Their main goal internationally is to become regional power with recognized influence. They see themselves as protectors of the Shia Muslims. Destroying Israel is not any of those goals. It's more of a cynical tool to keep connections into into Shia Arabs and Palestinians.

For the Shia living outside Iran (mainly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen) Iran is big brother that helps, but is often too controlling for their taste. The West has a tendency to see all Shia groups as mindless Iranian puppets. In reality it's the function of the situation and options they have. Iraqi Shia leaders have established connection with the US and are playing US and Iran for their own goals. Houthis in Yemen are not Iranian puppets. They have their own fight for their own reasons. Iran is just the only one to help them.

Many IR experts see that there is possibility for "the great bargain" with Iran. It would include recognizing Iran's position as big regional power and deal with Israel. It would also diminish the position of Saudi Arabia. The conflict is between Saudi Arabia and Iran over influence is real.

> Iranian leadership is not crazy group of religious lunatics. Ayatollahs are very conservative group of politicians who use religion for political control.

It's not the motivation, it's the use. From a classical liberal western perspective, the government explicitly using religion for control is being a crazy religious lunatic.

We're talking about a country where Islam is the official religion, renouncing it is illegal, and so is blasphemy against it. For Gods' sake, to apply to university you have to pass an exam on Islamic theology! With that as a baseline, you hardly need to go any further before you look like a completely kooky religious crazyman.

Everything you say applies to Saudi Arabia.

There is no justification to not having Iran as an ally instead of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

> Everything you say applies to Saudi Arabia.

Yes, Saudi Arabia is also full of religious crazies. Anyone who pays attention to the news knows about Wahhabism, and the morality/religious police there.

First sentence absolutely, I've no argument there.

For the second point, for that to work it has to apply to the Iranian regime as much as to the west. What justification do they have for not having the west as an ally? It has to cut both ways, for the two sides to be able to meet in the middle.

But Iran also has churches and synagogues, minorities in the parlament, by far the most empowered womans movement, an actual native republican and liberal intellectual tradition, a liberal, both economic and social elite (even within the regimn) and so on.

The population is also far less 'bought in' to these rules and police has a hard time enforcing clothing regulations for example.

In terms of religous freedom and religous pluralism Iran is leaps and bounds ahead of Saudi Arabia and many of the Arab states.

So you're agreeing with me then? Because I was arguing against

> Iranian leadership is not crazy group of religious lunatics.

And here you are saying that it's the leadership with all these crazy rules, enforcing them on a perhaps-unwilling populace.

I think the point here is not that much about "moral" arguing for or against them in a very binary way, it is firstly to better understand the situation.

The article and many comments point that there is a big gap between how we imagine Iran, and how Iran is really is.

Well I wouldn't call them crazy. The are religious, but still conduct stategraft as rationally and pragmatist as anybody else. Even more so.

Their idiology informs their forign policy, but so much is true for all nations.

You could say the same thing about popular televangelists. They're not irrational, their very success speaks to that.

But they're still often thought of as religious kooks, because of the views they espouse. Same kind of deal here.

When they support Syria or Hamas (Sunni), their are not guided by ideology but by Iranian and regime interst

That a simplistic anaysis. A pragmatist ideology like Lenin often went against his prinicples but he is still an ideolog. That's one of the prime tendencies of leninism. The same for the guys in Iran.

We should be carful of such simplistic binaries between idiology and state interest.

My point is this, they way they go their national interest is defently inspired by idiological ways of thinking.

* Regime run directly by religious leaders, which seem to be living in an orthodox style.

* Enforces religious laws on all citizens, and sometimes externally (like the Salman Rushdie case), even when paying a significant price for it.

* Has multiple outsider militia directly swearing loyalty to its leader based on religious connections.

* Repeatedly swears it wants to destroy Israel, and 'Death to America' is a repeated slogan.

'Conclusion:' the leaders don't believe all that stuff.

I think the issue here is that some Westerns that can't believe that anyone actually has different opinions than their modern opinions. Since these people are secular, all religious people are seen as merely engaging in power-play. We can see this attitude often in popular histories...

The president is not (necessary) a religious leader, nor is the chief of army or of the IRGC. Different religious leaders have a lot of power but many tend to overestimate their power.

For sure they enforces religious laws more than most of other countries, but again there is often a gap between what people picture and and the reality. My well educated brother was for example surprise that many girl wear scarf in a way to show half of their hairs, or that Iran pays for the transition of some transgender person. Definitely more liberal than Saudi Arabia...

Most countries that can find ways to boost their international influence. Suporting militia or countries is one way (like USA supporting kurdish militia in Iran°, but religion is only part of the equation. For example Iran supports Sunni groups (Hamas being the most famous)or country (use to get ties with Sudan). Religion helps. But money and military support is the cornerstone here. And many groups needs Iran, but don't like it, its control, have different agenda.

Repeatedly swears it wants to destroy Israel (good communication) but never do anything really in this direction. They have plenty of opportunity but don't act. Cause that is definitely not very important for them, and not realistic. A slogan is a slogan...

Conclusion: Iran is a dictatorship, a theocracy, and is in a fight with USA. Most of their leader are convinced Shia Muslim, but the way they acts shows that they are more guided by Iranian interest and regime / self interest preservation than crazy cleric fighting for primary for Shia everywhere in the world... And while it is a regime I hate, it is clear to me there is a big gap between the perception of Iran and the reality

* Perhaps you've heard of this religious guy called the Supreme leader which outranks the President and makes the important decisions.

* Paying for transgender tranisition is enforcing their religious laws - their version of Shia Islam is OK with the tranisition since they see it as a method of 'fixing' homosexuality. It's basically their version of a 'conversion treatment'. As wiki puts it:

"They sanction funds for sex reassignment surgery in order to fit all of their citizens into the category of either male or female without any grey area for those who are homosexual or transgender."[0]

* Iran doesn't do anything to harm Israel except for multi-decade direct funding and military support for every anti-Israel organizations in the neighbourhood.

Again, there's this narrowmindedness in the West that simply can't understand feelings and ideas outside it, including ideas that people in the West once had, and is in particular blind to religious zeal.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender_rights_in_Iran

> The problem in Iran is their politicians and the image created around the radical Iranian regime

I have another view: The problem with Iran is the USA siding with Saudi Arabia. Both Iran and S.A. are radical islamists countries (one could even argue that S.A. is worse). But somehow Iran is portrayed as evil and S.A. is given a blank check.

I'm 95% certain that Iran politicians will hail U.S.A if they were to change sides.

> Both Iran and S.A. are radical islamists countries (one could even argue that S.A. is worse).

What argument could there possibly be that Iran is “worse” than S.A.? As bad as things like human rights are in Iran, they are far worse in SA.

The democracy index (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index) rates SA a half point lower than Iran, which is fairy significant.

Freedom house also rates SA as less free than Iran: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/iran https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/saudi-ara...

Hard to find any measure by which Iran is less humane than SA.

>> What argument could there possibly be that Iran is “worse” than S.A.? As bad as things like human rights are in Iran, they are far worse in SA.

Its quite easy to make an argument that the Iranian regime is worse than Saudi Arabia. Iran has killed far more dissidents than Saudi Arabia ever has. For gosh sakes, Iran killed thousands of dissidents in the span of a couple months with the confirmed death toll at a low end of 4,500. Saudi Arabia has never done anything like this, and in fact, Saudi Arabian policy has always fluctuated between crackdowns and trying to accommodate islamist elements by being willing to show leniency; even making decisions to let prisoners go free en masse over several periods. Iran has always had zero tolerance for dissident elements whatsoever. Iran's leaders believe, after all, that the revolution is under constant threat from both internal and external enemies. This isn't to 'defend' saudi arabia and its security services but only to point out a difference that is essentially unknown to the general public.

At the very least, Iran's economic performance has been catastrophic even before the sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. The goal of an oil rich state should be to pump as much oil as possible to the broadest possible market. By this standard, Iran has been the worst performer in the middle east aside from countries at war and its populace is significantly poorer under the current regime than it would be otherwise.

The same thinking influences their foreign policy. Iran takes actions fundamentally destabilizing within the broader middle east because it believes the current state system poses an existential threat to it. Saudi Arabia doesn't believe this at all. Trying to reconcile islamist elements with a broadly pro-western foreign policy has been the modus operandi of saudi leaders since the cold war. You may take Iran's side but that doesn't mean their policy interests are somehow compatible with a nation state interested in preserving the status quo.

Well Iran is anti west (especially anti U.S) and S.A is happy to cooperate with the West as long as it can keep it's current regime. So in western eyes Iran is dangerous and S.A is mostly an ally. This isn't necessarily supposed to be "fair", if Iran doesn't like the current state of affairs it can abandon it's expansionist aspirations and nuclear weapons, stop with the "Death to America" mindset and all sanctions would be removed. But the regime doesn't want to give it up.

For sure they don't want to give it up for free ! Just like any country Iran want to defend its interests, to play its hand the best it can... And leverage in many countries (now even in Africa) and the nuclear weapon are "trump card" in the game, so they reinforce it for now... They will wait for the next US election and see how they can work something after it

"Iran want to defend it's interests" : well arguably bringing your country to the brink of economic collapse due to American sanctions isn't in Iran's best interests. We will see what the new American president (could be still Trump btw) is gonna do.

The problem is that it is insane to go with the US demands. US demands are driven by regmin change, not resonable demands.

There is NO WAY any Iranian government would simply give up its rocket program, specially when literally every power around you has them. Specially when they don't have an Airforce.

Iran has complied and tried to work with the international system on the nuclear question. They have behaved pretty reasonably going back to early 2000s. Their demands and programs are not outrages if any other country had made them.

The US wants to destory and overthrow all of their allies and the have bases in basically every country around Iran.

In reality econoimc sanctions do not collapse a country, the evidence of that is pretty clear. And it doesn't lead to regimn change either.

It's not just US demands, I don't think Europe is crazy about Iran having ballistic missiles armed with Nuclear warheads either (nor is it crazy about the idea Saudi will have them). Iran is responsible for destabilising oil supplies recently, is 100% responsible for arming Hezbollah and of course extends it's influence to Yemen, Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia is doing none of that and doesn't seem to care that much about building an empire of "influence" around the middle east.

I don't think it's "crazy" to go with U.S demands. it requires letting go of ego and the dream of the shiite revolution and empire I guess, or at least postponing it. It's like saying Kim from North Korea is would be crazy to let go of his crazy regime, how is that crazy?

US Europe and Iran had a deal. USA broke it.

Nobody is crazy about anybody else than themselves having ballistic missile and nuclear war head (which is not yet the case of Iran)

Every country try to build influence outside. Saudi Arabia is more responsible of the situation of Yemen than Iran is. SA supported jihadist group in Syria, support armed group in Libya and Lebanon, have bought some influence in Sudan, Egypt... Pour hundred of million to support quietist salafist... SA builds its influence and defend its interest, like any country.

What Trump is currently asking is a no go for Iranian... Each part is building force to find a new deal, to force a better deal. Sanctions is part of it. Supporting proxy is another.

> I don't think Europe is crazy about Iran having ballistic missiles armed with Nuclear warheads either

That just fear mongering. Iran is neither developing missiles that can carry warheads, nor do they have the nuclear material for warheads nor do they have the technology for warheads.

The missles Iran are developing are conventional missiles for mid-range applications. They actual understand that Europe doesn't want them to be able to attack Europe.

In fact Saudi Arabia and pretty much every other country has missiles. In fact Saudi Arabia illigally bought intercontinental missles from China and were not held accountable at all, but Iran is supposed to beg to be allowed even basic missles?

Demanding that Iran can not have missles when everybody else has them is unreasonable.

> Iran is responsible for destabilising oil supplies recently

Iran has 'destabalised' oil supply far less then constant arab and US oil polices. For most of its history Iran was consistant conservative oil producers and they are still.

Its frankly laughable for the West to claim 'Iran' is destabalizing the oil market, given things like Iraq War. Multible massive embargos against countries like Iran, Iraq and so on.

> is 100% responsible for arming Hezbollah

Hezbollah is no longer a pure subsidiary as it was in the past. They are independned power that allied with Iran. They still get some of their important arms from Iran, but to think of Hezbollah as '100% reliant on Iran' is a wrong.

> and of course extends it's influence to Yemen

Iran had no interest in Yemen and had basically no relationship with Houthi. The Houthi took over Yemen before they were really supported by Iran. Only once the Saudis started a full on war against them, did Iran change its policy and started to support the Houthi in order to bleed Saudi Arabia.

Iran didn't cause anything in Yemen and the Houthi are no-where near the same relationship with them as they have with Hezbollah. The Houthis are just a group that is fighting Saudi Arabia for its own reason and Iran using Saudi Arabia bad polices against them.

Its Western and Saudi stupidity that they handed the Houthi to Iran, as the Houthi were actually more or less payed of by the Saudis for a long time and even had good relations with the West.

> Saudi Arabia is doing none of that and doesn't seem to care that much about building an empire of "influence" around the middle east.

Maybe you simply don't pay attention to Middle East politics but that is an absurd statment.

- Saudi Arabia just reasently kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon.

- The enacted a blockade of Qatar

- The funded the Egyption Military Coup against Muslim Brothers and democracy

- They are fighting a war in Yemen (more agressive then anything Iran has done in 100 years)

- They are fighting a proxy war against UAE in Yemen as well (just for good measure)

- They activly try to change Islam to make it more like their own (Wahhabism) both in the ME and world wide

- They clearly funded very nasty groups in Syria including ISIS (early on) and later groups like Al-Nusra

The list goes on and on ...

> I don't think it's "crazy" to go with U.S demands. it requires letting go of ego and the dream of the shiite revolution and empire I guess, or at least postponing it. It's like saying Kim from North Korea is would be crazy to let go of his crazy regime, how is that crazy?

Iran has already given up pretty much everything that is reasonable yet it has absolutly no effect on the policy that persue.

They have no nuclear weapons program and that has been confirmed by all intellegence services. They don't even demand the full rights they have under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. They signed the extended treaty and then to double reassure the international community the signed the most restrictive nuclear treaty in the history of the IAEA. They observed the signed treaty and that was confirmed over and over again by IAEA. The effect, US didn't release sanction but betrayed the treaty and recreated the sanction. But yet you still demand that Iran changes the way its doing things?

In terms of rocket development they have already, without even a treaty, stopped the program to develop intercontinental missiles.

So yes, Iran is treated incredibly unfairly in the international system specially considering their historical role, practical power and ability to work with the West if their is mutual interst (such as nuclear treaty, fighting ISIS, fighting Taliban and so on) this is incredibly unreasonable and totally hypocritical.

And yes, for the leaders of those countries, simply giving up would be crazy. As most likly they and their famillies would be killed.

Unreasonable, hypocritical? The west is dealing with a country that still hangs gays out of cranes (lately it said it has no gay problem because no gays live in Iran). Just because Saudi maybe is just as bad as Iran (which I doubt, since as I said it cooperates with Western interests) doesn't make Iran a reasonable country. If they wanna commit financial suicide that's on them.

Do you know what hypocritical means????

That the US is opposed to Iran has nothing today with human rights or gays or anything like that.

> which I doubt, since as I said it cooperates with Western interests

Again, you seem to suffer under the delusion that the West interest have something to do with human rights.

Its really not up for debate, SA is less Western in pretty much every single way. Both win the governemnt and far more so when you consider the population.

> If they wanna commit financial suicide that's on them.

So being stranggled against the your will or the will of your population is now 'commiting suicide'?

These sanction make the Revolutionary Guard stronger, not weaker. Pure sanctions have proven again and again that they do not lead to regimn or even policy change.

But lets just continue to hurt the population for no reason because it feels good to do something about some PR stories that have nothing to do with the actual conflict.

I never said the U.S opposes Iran only on the base of it's treatment of gays: but it definitely doesn't help. The gay thing is just an example, Iran is a full blown theocracy governed by a totalitarian regime; everything is censored. It's leaders spread hate to the U.S: "Death to America!" (when did Obama or Bush or even Trump ever use such speech?), and it's a destabilising element in the region. Russia and North Korea got sanctions for their behavior, I don' see why Iran shouldn't. Their population is far from starving. I tend to agree the sanctions have yet to prove themselves, but it's a much better tool than full blown war which nobody wants.

You suffer under the total delusion that the US cares about human rights, totalitarianism, censoriship and things like that. Or even if people who cry 'Death to America'. PLEASE STOP IT. THE US DOESNT GIVE SINGLE SHIT ABOUT THAT.

If your analyisis of US forign policy includes "US does X because country Y is against gay rights" or "because its a totalitarian regime" then you are already totally deluded yourself about what is happening in international politics.

Half the countries that are allied with the US would be opponents if they cared about thise things thus analysis of issues with that premis are non-starter.

The US has supported groups and countries that are far, far worse in each of those aspects, that makes the US position totally clear. It simply doesn't care.

Thus its utter hypocracy to claim its hostility with Iran is based on those things are simply lies to confuse the uninformed US population.

> it's a destabilising element in the region

I would argue that's not actually true. That is, the US media likes to talk about it, because everything that the US doesn't like 'is destabalizing' but is it destabalizing to what? The US interest, not the region itself.

In reality of course the main destabalizing force in the ME is the US itself. The Iraq war is and was the most destabalizing event in modern ME history. Afganistan, Lebanon, trying to overthrow Assad and the list goes on.

Iran supports Assad against Rebelion. The US calles that 'destabalizing', well that regmin has existed for 40 years and the US policy of overthrowing it was actually the destabalizing factor. If the Assad regmin would fall, anybody knowlagable about Syria will tell you that the possible replacments are far, far worse then Assad. The US knew this and thus never went all-in against Assad, they got smarter after Iraq.

Iran supports Hezbollah, who are a part of the Lebanese government and whatever you want to say about them, they are not a destabalizing force. In fact Hezbollah was primarly responsable for defeating ISIS on the boarder to Lebanon and preventing ISIS to spread into Lebanon.

Iran fought ISIS in Iraqi-Kurdistan and in Iraq. In fact Iran was vital to those battles (even while the US takes all the credit). Is fighting the most evil terrorist regmin that has existed in 100s of years destablizing? Or the opposite?

Iran has allowed Qatar to use its airspace when Saudi Arabia started to blockade them. They also traded with Qatar, even when they were not really friendly with each other.

So please tell me, is fighting ISIS and opposing Saudi Arabian aggression in Qatar and Yemen 'destabalizing'? No it is not. Its simply against the US interest.

No compare this to US allies. Is it destabalizing to send a massive air and land army into Yemen as Saudis and UAE have done? Is it destabalizing to blockade another country? Is it destabalizing to support Whabi radicals in Syria rather then fight them? Is it destbalizing to destroy a democracy threw a military coup?

> Russia and North Korea got sanctions for their behavior, I don' see why Iran shouldn't. Their population is far from starving. I tend to agree the sanctions have yet to prove themselves, but it's a much better tool than full blown war which nobody wants.

I don't think sanction in some cases are totally unreasonable. If Iran invaded Basra (equivalent of taking Crima) then sanction would make sense. But the sanctions are not for any of these things mentioned above.

They are because of a missile program that doesn't even get them up to parity with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Israel. And are thus unreasonable against a country with 90 million people and legit security questions on its boarders.

The other set of sanctions are because of their nuclear program that they have addressed with a internationally binding treaty. They reassured and rereassured everybody about that program. However the US, despite all the evidence of both their own security services, the IAEA and international pressure have gone back on the deal.

So, once Iran invades Basra, or once Iran actually tries to build nuclear weapons, I will argue with you if sanction them makes sense. Currently they simple don't.

Iran is in a tricky situation, with no good solution, but with solution better than others... The country invested a lot in nuclear and to get leverage abroad ; both things are strategic for the country (independently of who rules it) and even more to the current regime. They have nothing to expect from the current US president before election. Especially knowing that US is not ready for a war so far. What happened recently, last act being in Saudi Arabia seems to shows that Iran keep leveling up the stake, to have more bargaining chips for next serious round of negotiation, post US presidential election (even if Trump get reelected, that is a new chapter)

Iran is anti-USA solely because the USA is anti-Iran. They've made a number of attempts to normalize relations but the USA just keeps going back to tarring Iran as evil before long.

Yep. Anti-usa sentiment (and posters here are seriously overestimating any such sentiment imo) was originally rooted in the reaction to the CIA-backed coup that overthrew a progressive, democratically elected prime minister and effectively installed of the shah, regarded by many as a despot, who was of course on fabulous terms with the US.

I heard this sentiment from many people though when my friend (experienced traveller) visited few months ago, he was very disappointed, saying they are even bigger cheaters than infamous Vietnamese and Indians, yeah they are smiling at you pretending to be your friend (unlike sour faces in Vietnam), but they still try to cheat you and God forbid if you disagree with their praise for the country, so now I just think of it as about another Vietnam

As an Iranian-Canadian, it breaks my heart to hear this. I wish our country would have welcomed you with open arms.

I know first hand how wonderful Israelis are, I have worked with plenty of talented Israeli software engineers as well as Jewish only owned companies.

I can only hope for a future where our two countries can work hand in hand and collaborate. Perhaps my I am naive in thinking this but what else is there as opposed to strive for a better future?

Wow the Mongol Rally sounds amazing. Can I get in touch to ask you about it?


Add me and send a message here:


And as for proof for the reaching the Mongol Rally finish line: https://imgur.com/a/LVz4DMv

I feel it's similar to Russia, an insane regime but fantastic people and people generally seem to be smart and civilized, both in IT and outside of it.

The problem with Iran is US propaganda against them.

Yes, there are a number of bad illiberal policies they have, but the bad is played up hugely while the good is minimized.

Politicians are just that class of criminals we’ve regulated well enough to keep the spotlight on them.

Judging an entire nation by the ugliness of its politicians would be short sighted.

We, us regular folk, have more in common with each other, with our global neighbours, than we ever will the ruling class.

Not every US citizen is a Trump support, and not every Trump supporter is a buffoon. And Australian and UK politics are simply too embarrassing to even mention.

That’s not true at all. The people are the ones who elect the politicians, remember? In Bangladesh where I’m from, if you’re an American tourist hanging out in areas full of western expats you might be get the wrong impression. But make no mistake. Outside those pockets, you’re in a country where 1/3 of people think people born into Muslim families should be executed if they leave Islam. 80% of women are beaten by their husbands. Where 22% of women are married by age 15. (On the flip side, many things Americans do would bring great shame to a Bangladeshi family.)

> but other teams got into Iran

... and lost their ability to enter the US under ESTA[0]. Thanks Obama!

0: https://nl.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program/

The Gender-Equality Paradox in STEM


"...life-quality pressures in less gender-equal countries promote girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM subjects."

The above paper didn't include Iran (I think?) but Tunisia, UAE, Algeria and Turkey all had the most proportion of women in STEM and the lowest gender equality out of all the countries.

They are probably entering university not because Iran is friendly towards women and girls but because their society is unfriendly towards them. Iran certainly has a very low Global Gender Gap index. In the bottom 5 countries in the world. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2017.pdf

I can only speak for Tunisia but the reason women go into STEM is purely economical. STEM jobs pay the most.

The way I see it, a lack of women in STEM is a symptom of a healthy economy, who wouldn't want to not deal with spaghetti code if money was not an issue?

> The way I see it, a lack of women in STEM is a symptom of a healthy economy

Exactly. What is observable in Japan, where a decent job can still provide for a whole family, is that more than half of women choose to be stay-at-home mom. This is not a plot of "the Patriarchy" but something that make sense for them.

On the other side, the current trend in the West to promote women and foreigner work under the diversity meme could be reasonably interpreted as scheme from the big companies to lower wages even further.

is that the entire story? there is a pole every year whether a man could handle having a woman as a boss. In Japan it's still 70-80% say "no". Many Japanese women might choose to stay home but many effectively have few other choices

more anecdata: a Japanese friend of mine moved back to Japan (Tokyo) after 10 years in the states to raise her 2 kids. She tried to get a job and was told "go home and take care of your kids" by several companies. She moved back to the USA after realizing how much she no longer belongs.

note I've heard the idea the as a society gets more prosperous women seem to choose less STEM options. That might be true but I don't think Japan is a good example.

Maybe China?

This is quite a well established phenomenon, which highlights that a lot of gender gaps in developed countries really just comes down to choices that people make knowingly and freely.

> Paradoxically, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality

> A mediation analysis suggested that life-quality pressures in less gender-equal countries promote girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM subjects


Japan might not be a great example, but the Nordic countries are.

I guess the issue for those japanese companies was not that they don't want women, or think that women should only be moms. It's that she was indeed a mom that had to take care of their kids (I assume since you didn't mention any stay-at-home partner). In that situation she was not able to wageslave her life away for the company.

Are you saying they didn't want to burden a mother with an awful job?

Not that they didn't want but that they couldn't. If your employee got kids to look after, they won't realistically stay in the office for unnecessary extra hours.

That must be one of the worst cases of confusing correlation with causation that I've ever seen.

> There are, at all times, a number of unattached young ladies in your office. Most of them choose to quit right about when they get married or have children.

> You might imagine that you heard a supervisor tell a young lady in the office “Hey, you’re 30 and aging out of the marriage market, plus I hear you’re dating someone who is not one of my employees, so you might want to think about moving on soon.”, but that would be radioactively illegal, since Japanese employment discrimination laws are approximately equivalent to those in the US. A first-rate Japanese company would certainly never do anything illegal, and a proper Japanese salaryman would never bring his company into disrepute by saying obviously untrue things like the company is systematically engaged in illegal practices. So your ears must be deceiving you. Pesky ears.


My feeling is when we talk about diversity and women issues, we often talk about executive job, or job with high salary / some influence on the society (like well payed job in tech). In those cases this is not about lowering wages. This is about performance and ethic.

To farther your point, Jordan Peterson mentions studies in Scandinavia that show that the more equality is given to both genders to pursue their interests, the farther apart they drift. Women tended to go into fields such as nursing, teaching, more people oriented fields, whereas men ended up going into more traditional male fields like STEM.

Far leftists and neo-feminists don't like this of course because it doesn't sit with their narrative that "the patriarchy" is the cause of everything today they don't agree with.

If it was just about pay, surely the incentive would work on boys just as much as girls?

I think the idea is that STEM attainment confers social status, and in cultures with low gender equality it's one of the few ways girls can gain social status independently of men. They can then leverage that status to gain economic and other freedoms.

Boys on the other hand have other ways available to them to gain economic advantage, which are not easily available to girls in those societies.

Lol @ stem conferring social status. Most stem is just desk work. Its not some romantic mars mission for 99.999% of even the best engineers. The only thing buying status is the paycheck. Money empowers women. Its that simple.

Uh, an engineering degree from a good school confers plenty of status in some of the countries we are duscussing, in which teens stop socializing their last year of high school to prepare for college entrance exams

And we can be similarly reductive about any profession. Lawyers are just paper pushers, academics are glorified grant Chasers, and so on

- If it was just about pay, surely the incentive would work on boys just as much as girls?

That's the question basically. Would it :)? One side says it would the other says that genders are statistically different.

- Boys on the other hand have other ways available to them to gain economic advantage

I don't know about them. Sure, the 0.1% of them can be politicians / CEOs, but it's not "available" for people in general ( it requires a very specific personality IMHO ). I don't think 10-20-30% differences could be explained by this small portion. For most men gaining economic advantage _is_ about getting a good job, and that's the only option.

>- Boys on the other hand have other ways available to >them to gain economic advantage > >I don't know about them. Sure, the 0.1% of them can be >politicians / CEOs, but it's not "available" for people >in general

In many of these countries there are a huge variety of jobs that are not available to women, because their ability to interact with men who are strangers is highly restricted. So most commercial, industrial and many administrative roles are not available, because they would involve often meeting 'random' men. In some of the countries, women can't even serve men in shops.

That cuts it down to basically office jobs or educational institutions where the men around you are a stable restricted group, that it's possible to gain social acceptance for, or jobs involving meeting men in highly controlled situations.

Even then, for many administrative roles in these cultures jobs are obtained through contacts and private arrangements rather than through an open jobs market. Again that's largely not available to women because these networks are almost entirely male and again lack of ability to associate freely with men closes them off.

STEM is different because it's jobs are only available to people with specific, quantifiable qualifications and skill the possession of which is an objective fact, verifiable through credentials. That's where the status comes from. Social networks and personal opinions of suitability aren't good enough for employers to fill all the roles they have open, so they have to look to a wider jobs market. They can't afford to close those roles to half or more of the available work force, so they have to make arrangements to suit women's working conditions or lose out on skilled candidates.

Mu impression is that gender roles are essentially luxury consumption. In rich countries your lifestyle will always be at least ok, so yo can afford to care that your career is manly/womanly enough. In poorer countries you don't say no to education that will greatly improve your lifestyle.

Another interesting point from that paper:

"Paradoxically, boys’ overestimation of their competence in science was larger in countries with higher Global Gender Gap Index scores."

That is, the lower the gender gap, the more boys overestimate their science skill.

Iranian women have been historically been very well-educated, and this predates the Islamic republic. They've been churning out lots of female engineers and physicians for some time. I know women well into their 70s who are graduates of med school in Tehran and practicing in the US for e.g.

I'm not sure how you can hypothesize these things without any historical and cultural context

Tidbit I read years ago is that in unequal societies young middle and upper class women often enter university to avoid expectations of marriage by continuing to go to school. Longer you put it off the more power you have.

Actually, most of Western opinion about Iran is misguided and plain wrong. Iran is really not as terrible as all the propaganda about it. In fact its quite much like Turkey, except the politicians are better and its not as corrupt.

Iran bans females from attending sports events and imposes mandatory hijab (e.g. [0]), Turkey does not.

You can oppose Western policy if you like, but lets talk about the country's policies as they really are.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/10/iranian-female...

Is Turkey really that much progressive than Iran ?

Turkey is quite connected to Germany even though many don't want to admit that, so I would agree that, superficially at least, it looks more western-ish.

But IIRC a couple of years ago there was a coup attempt in Turkey, lots of journalists, academics, judges, etc. were instantaneously thrown into jail, etc. So I'm unsure how much of that "western-look" that Turkey has is real and how much is just a facade. Is there democracy in Turkey? Is there freedom of opinion? Freedom of press? Religious freedom?

I'm not arguing whether Iran is better or worse, and I'm not suggesting that we should only measure both countries in, e.g., LGBT rights, but while Turkey might not be exactly Iran, I actually put closer to Iran than to its Greek neighbor in the "progressive" scale.

Turkey is getting worse and worse, but there's still no outright overt enforcement of religious norms and a secular opposition is still allowed to run in meaningful elections. Closer to Iran than Greece? hmm.. sure. But it's not there just yet.

In terms of Greece’s liberal progressive spectrum, in fact, the tradition of a newly wed bride’s father gifting the groom a house/apt is still a thing. I know because I am from the Balkans. As much as you think that Greece is progressive, its actually not, in the western sense of the word. Also, I dont really believe that one can have an individual’s opinion of progressiveness, or whether ones left wing or right wing, I believe that most things people believe in are there because of their herd mentality, and of course theres the wealthy and powerful people who are trying to keep the citizens in a status quo. Chomsky has a great book on this. Also, I believe it was Napoleon who said “Religion is why the poor havent murdered the rich yet”

It hasn't been quite 100 years since women got the vote in the USA.. Women's rights are the way up in Iran.

I think the implicit comparison here is to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The later of which our leadership seems to have nothing but good things to say even after 9/11, Khashoggi, and Yemen(with weapons from us).

Women's rights are on the way up in Iran? Perhaps, I can't recall any basis for it. Maybe this will happen in the long term, but that's almost an empty statement.

Now, condemning SA is perfectly justified. But 'look over there' isn't a helpful argument re: Iran. It sounds like the same hypocrisy the US government does, except the US government at least has some foreign policy justification for it (Iran being more powerful and more hostile to US), while commenters are just being contrarian.

> Iran bans females from attending sports events and imposes mandatory hijab

But would that really be that terrible in the grad scheme of things? Would you not wear a mandatory hat and renounce on sport events if everything else was faily good? This only seems like massive oppression from our privileged western view.

How is being forced to wear specific clothing and being banned from certain areas for no reason other than your gender _not_ massive oppression? It's literally taking away your ability to decide for yourself as a human being.

And yes, I'm a privileged westerner, but that doesn't exactly seem relevant.

Would you rather live in a politically and financially unstable country were you are free to do whatever you want. Or were you are forced to wear specific type of clothes but society is wealthy and stable?

Seeing as how the average Iranian is neither wealthy nor in a politically stable environment, I'd have to disagree with the argument as a whole. Reducing the treatment of women under Islamic law to "wearing specific clothes" is also incredibly misleading.

Theyre not financially stable, but politically intracountrywise, they are. Theyre not diplomatically stable with the west because Saudi oil is competing with Iran oil, and Saudi pays their debts in big lobbying and massive weapon buying from the west. But socially speaking, the country is very stable. Their culture is as strong as it has always been. They really dont have any social frictions. I would say the US has big social frictions, like the massive false allegation cases where men lose their whole careers over made up stuff...

I actually fairly agree with your point on this. Its really not as bad as people make it seem to be

Saudi Arabia is way worse than Iran in terms of womens rights, but nobody cares because theres no propaganda against them... US foreign policy is like the most hypocritical agenda ever conceived. China is communist, but they dont care since theyre making money off China, while the Soviets communism was a target of propaganda all the time. Also, just to add, Iran was very liberal until 1979 when the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, and he only came to power because the Shah raised oil prices and the Americans approved of Khomeini coming back to Iran.

Iran requires headscarves. Turkey has banned them. Both are somewhat oppressive, in that respect, but dress codes are a trivial matter compared to things like freedom of speech. I'd rather not get distracted by them.

East Germany allowed total nudity on the beach (and also didn't ban burkinis, as far as I know, unlike certain countries that claim to believe in Liberté). Was East Germany less oppressive than the UK?

For Iranian Women it is not allowed to ride a Bicycle in Public.

"and its not as corrupt." -- au contraire!

When you go there as a tourist, you will generally encounter zero corruption.

...and the Hezbollah is a peaceful club of intellectuals organising protestation sittings. And the Guardians of the Revolution were driving through the crowd with sticks to keep the protesters safe.

In some sense, the IRA was not anyhow different than Hezbollah, but look how infamous Hezbollah is. Its really just a paramilitary unit trying to balance the overpowered israel and saudi in the region. Its lebanons only defence, because the west bribes them very very often. In fact in the Balkans, my friends dad is a very very high ranking politician whos currently in power, and I for a fact know that he has made a lots of business deals with western officials, which in fact has made the country now leaning to the west instead of the east

Turkey by Western standards is not heaven either ;-) While I agree that are a lot of myths and false assumptions about Iran.

Well technically they are still in the process of joining the EU...

Theoretically yes, practically nothing is happening:

"Since 2016 accession negotiations have stalled.[7] The EU has accused and criticized Turkey for human rights violations and deficits in rule of law.[8] In 2017, EU officials expressed that planned Turkish policies violate the Copenhagen criteria of eligibility for an EU membership.[9] On 26 June 2018, the EU's General Affairs Council stated that "the Council notes that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union. Turkey’s accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen."[10][11]"

"20 February 2019 - EU parliament committee votes to suspend accession talks with Turkey."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accession_of_Turkey_to_the_Eur...

I've never believed that will never actually happen. For all of turkeys public relations efforts pushing their euro identify, European countries don't care for the Turks, don't identify with them culturally, and will never allow it. Erdogan doesn't help their cause either, obviously.


It appears like any other Islamic country, street life is as 'normal' as it maybe in Dubai or Pakistan or Egypt.

Dec 2018: Iran's Got Street Life


I see your point, but I also feel like Turkey is a very low bar to jump over. Hardly a ringing endorsement to claim a country is as good as Turkey, a country with a ruling party that seems to have little interest in democracy, and firm control over the media, elections, and the judiciary.

You should blog about it and demonstrate how nice it is like this couple.


"Our biggest motivation... is to hopefully inspire anyone wanting to travel, and also try to break the stigma around travelling to countries which get a bad wrap [sic] in the media,"

Flying a drone in Iran as a foreigner is a pretty stupid thing to do. Especially near a military area. An as a foreigner you wouldn't know where that is - so they really shouldn't have done it. I say this as an Australian too - I've travelled a lot as well and you have to use a bit of common sense when in countries like Iran. Saying that I do wish for their safe release of course.

You would have problems in any country if you go around taking photos close to military areas. Even here in Sweden.

Assuming the claim of them flying drones is true, they’re pretty lucky.

I think if there were Iranians flying drones near a US military base, prison would be an upgrade from whatever treatment they’d get.

I was in Iran last year so let's give some perspective why this metric alone is useless:

1. Before university boys and girls learn in separate schools.

2. After university women have almost zero chances for career. It is more probably that they will end up being house wives.

I doubt that this has changed in a year. I have not checked my facts - that's impression from speaking with open minded Iranian families (and we have met various families).

Basically, university is one of the rare chances for women in Iran not to marry their cousin.

I was born in 1983 in the Netherlands. My mom, and all my friends' moms, were housewives. About half of these moms were university educated or comparably. All their daughters now have proper jobs.

Sounds like Iran is roughly in the same place now, which I assume is a big improvement over some decades ago. Just give it another generation.

Anecdotally, I've tought some CS classes at the local university, to a highly mixed crowd. The Iranian students, every year, were somehow all female, and they were invariably among the top of their class. I'm going to be very surprised if these particular women turn out to become housewives.

If you were to look at Iran before the revolution, you'd find them as liberal as most and more so than many parts of the West - the Catholic nations - in the same era. So it's only improvement if you're looking at post-revolutionary Iran. Extend timeline a little further back and it's a giant leap backwards.

I think I read somewhere that revolution actually boosted girl literacy and girl attendance to school and high school because most of Iran outside big cities was very conservative and did not trust secular school...

I think there were and there is huge difference between some area in Tehran and different places in the countryside

General literacy is very different to university level education. Anyway, wasn't parent talking of what options are there after the qualification? To get a career with that BSc, or become a housewife...

That there is difference between capital and countryside is not surprising. You'll find that in every nation except city states, throughout history - London compared to the rural parts of Yorkshire or the Scottish Islands. Washington DC compared to rural Ohio or Mississippi. Actually these days, London compared to everywhere else in the UK.

> Just give it another generation.

There is a pretty clear difference between Netherlands and Iran. The former isn't a dictatorship nor a theocracy.

I think it's one of the problems with people from the West reasoning about authoritarian countries. You try to evaluate countries that are like 30-100 years behind by the metrics that are relevant for the Western world _today_ (like gender gap, etc.).

The problem with Iran, in the first place is that it is an authoritarian theocracy with no freedom of speech, assembly and association, freedom of religion, right to fair trial, etc. I believe it's quite unreasonable to talk about gender equality, LGBT right and so forth until these are fixed.

However even authoritarian regimes are different. E.g. Stalin's Soviet Russia is quite different from post-Stalin Soviet Russia while both are authoritarian regimes. I don't want to live in either but if I had to choose from the two that's definitely not under Stalin's sun. Based on what people talk in Iran authoritarian regime is much more relaxed now. The only reason why we don't see revolution in Iran yet is that they still remember the last one. They expect to get normal government somehow without revolution but I doubt that they will succeed with that.

I did't mean Iran is a worst regime ever. I was only objecting to claiming it being 'roughly the same' as Netherlands in 1980s based on one trait, that is women's rights.

Considering Stalin's regime it was quite progressive wrt gender equality for it's time: women had equal rights to vote (even if voting was meaningless), could study at universities and work almost any job they wanted. Still, it was a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, and if I was a woman, I would probably prefer living in some less equal Western country at the time.

Would some ex-soviet country be better example? Again, we have very different stories for ex-soviet countries as well.

Overall I agree with you.

You can't compare Iran to Netherlands 30+ years ago...

I hope you are right as that would transform Iran completely (in positive way).

One step at a time.

Substantial cultural or institutional change doesn’t happen in a year or even five years. Anecdotally, the time lines are 20-30 years, if not more. Some countries move faster than others.

I don’t think this metric is useless. No one is saying Iran is the bastion of women’s rights. But - More women achieving higher education is a good thing. The younger generations are certainly far more progressive from the anecdotes I’ve heard from Iranian friends.

That's absolutely the case - but it depends on city. While we were in Iran we have met some very religious people. But we have met people with whom we could talk even about homosexuals' situation in Iran.

Sorry but your second point does not correct. I have relatives in Iran (all my female relatives have finished university in Iran and work). Last time I visted my cousin (this is alreay some years ago) he showed me around the company he works for (IT company) and half of the software engineers there were women.

Almost zero chances? They can't do freelancer or similar?

Oh right, the USA's sanctions.

Most of this is an outright fabrication. Marry their cousin????

Working link:https://en.mehrnews.com/news/150023/Women-make-up-54-of-new-...

For comparison, the University of California system is 52% female [1] and the California State University is 56% female [2].



Nationally it's about 56% of students at university are women.

Aug 2017, The Atlantic: "Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women—58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s—the ratio has now almost exactly reversed."

"This fall, women will comprise more than 56 percent of students on campuses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Some 2.2 million fewer men than women will be enrolled in college this year. And the trend shows no sign of abating. By 2026, the department estimates, 57 percent of college students will be women."


I suppose this is being upvoted as it goes against western preconceptions of irani society and women rights over there. When reading it, I remembered I visited Doha earlier this year and I was told that many more women than men go to university there, because for men it is vastly more likely to be socially acceptable to study abroad than for women. So that may also be playing a role here (or not; qatar is quite smaller, richer and more open than Iran)

On the other hand in Europe also more women than men are entering university.

That's not the case with Iran. If you want to study abroad as Iranian you must either spend 10000€ (or something like that) to get permission to leave country or spent 3 years in the army. I'm simplifying with 10000€ but idea is that Iranians with their small salaries can not allow that. Joining military is not an option as well for some.

I have this vivid pictures in my mind of Iranian women attending universities, becoming doctors, lawyers, etc. from before the 80's. I wasn't born yet but I always have that contrast in the back of my mind when hearing news from Iran.

Not all Islamic societies are against educating women. Another thing that sometimes happens in deeply patriarchal societies is that women are freer to engage in non-earning pursuits. So they study because they don't have to worry about supporting families but they wouldn't be allowed to work later on. It is also seen in India, e.g., where lots of women study but gender participation in the workforce has actually dropped in recent years because it isn't acceptable for them to work.

This is not a religious issue. As a matter of fact, Islam is pro-education regardless of gender. What we see from the likes of Taliban or AlQaeda and their likes is completely anti-Islamic in many ways.

It used to be 70% in STEM, now it's 49% (edited to clarify): https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2015/12/09/set-to-ta...

No. From the article

> 70% of of Iran's science and engineering students are women

This article talk about all universities and all fields. Not just science and engineering.

I've heard the theory that in countries where women are more dependent, like Muslim countries, they have much higher levels of enrolment exactly to be able to escape their dependency on male family members. Similarly in poorer countries, like India and ex-Soviet republics, the enrolment for the sciences versus arts is larger than the rest of the world.

At least in the US there are substantially more women in university than men: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/08/why-me...

> Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women—58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s—the ratio has now almost exactly reversed.

> This fall, women will comprise more than 56 percent of students on campuses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Some 2.2 million fewer men than women will be enrolled in college this year. And the trend shows no sign of abating. By 2026, the department estimates, 57 percent of college students will be women.

Not sure how it is in other Western countries though.

This news made my day. I hope this would be the norm in the whole world in next few decades. Especially in developing countries and whole middle east.

I wish it was the same in my African country. Among the things that can make our population slow down a little (5.70 births per woman in 2016), higher education for women is the efficient one. In high school, girls where the majority but in after that ... they are in a drastic minority.

Why there are papers on the floor near each table on the photo in the article?

Looking into their faces, Most of them are waiting, and some of them are trying to read those papers. So I assume there is an exam and those are questions and the the exam has not started yet when they took this photo. Probably they are only allowed to pick them up once exam starts.

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