Seventy-seven graduate programs will no longer be available to women in Iranian universities across the country, according to Iranian new site Rooz Online. The restrictions were added to the academic manuals of institutions this year without any warning. Since a news outlet discovered the restrictions earlier this month, the Ministry of Education and universities have been bombarded with demands for an explanation.

Subjects ranging from accounting, pure chemistry, mining engineering, and urban development engineering will only be available for male applicants in 36 different universities including the University of Tehran. Women have been accepted into these programs with no restrictions as early as last year. It is unclear if women students will be allowed to complete degrees they have already started. Female students who have been accepted that start in the coming academic year will not be able to study in certain fields.

Officials from the Ministry of Education justified the decisions of universities citing the “the basis of the needs and necessities of society.” The Director General for the spread of education from the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology stated, “Some fields are not very suitable for women’s nature such as agricultural machinery or mining, partly because of the hard work involved in them.”

After the negative response to the new policies, many officials have attempted to back-track their statements. The decisions to bar women from specific programs also comes after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the end of sex segregation in schools, a practice that continues in many universities.

Media Resources: New York Times 8/20/12; Rooz Online 8/7/12

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