February 20, 2017

Iranian Women Banned from Many Areas of University Study

According to an August 21 press statement by Victoria Nuland of the US Department of State, 36 universities in Iran have banned women from studying in 77 critical fields, including nuclear physics, computer science, engineering and education. The Committee of Concerned Scientists urges the Iranian government to lift these restrictions.

September 6, 2012

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
662 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Your Eminence:

The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern for exclusion of Iranian women from critical fields of study in higher education.

According to an August 21, 2012 press briefing by the US Department of State, 36 Iranian universities have banned women from 77 critical fields of study. These include nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and business management. The Oil Industry University will no longer accept female students, and Isfahan University will exclude women from its mining engineering degree.

Iranian women have outnumbered men in universities for decades, according to the State Department. Women represent an invaluable human and intellectual resource for your country. These restrictions will not only limit their educational opportunities but will also seriously impact their access to employment — solely on the basis of their gender. They also deprive Iranian society of the benefits of science in curtailing science education for a substantial part of Iranian society.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Iran is a party, guarantees in Article 13 the right of all to education, including higher education. Article 15 of the same Covenant guarantees to all the right to the benefits of science. Deniying Iranian women access to important academic subjects appears to violate both of these provisions. We understant that Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi has requested a United Nation investigation in letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and to Ahmad Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in Iran. According to news reports, the restrictions have also been questioned in Iran’s Parliament.

We urge you to direct Science Minister Kamran Danshejoo to lift these restrictions and to allow Iranian women free access to all fields of higher education in all universities.


Eugene Chudnovsky
Alexander Greer
Joel Lebowitz
Walter Reich
Paul Plotz

Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists

Related articles

Iranian Women Excluded From Major Areas of University Study, US Department of State, August 21, 2012

Universities in Iran Put Limits on Women’s Options, New York Times, August 20, 2012