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In Iran, workplaces are 'men's clubs' amid systematic misogyny Open in fullscreen

Diana Alghoul

In Iran, workplaces are 'men's clubs' amid systematic misogyny

Iranian women casting their votes in the 2017 elections [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 May, 2017

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A HRW report exposes the way misogyny is ingrained in Iranian society, putting working women at an explicit institutional disadvantage

Women in Iran are subject to a range of laws and regulations that restrict their rights in the workplace, a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released on Thursday highlighted.

The human rights watchdog interviewed women across the country in their new 59-page report titled “It’s a men’s club, discrimination against women in Iran’s job market”, in which they obtained personal accounts of how difficult it is to find employment as a woman in Iran, and maintain the respect and level of professionalism they need.

“I don’t think the management was very eager to hire women. I think they felt that it would add ‘complications’ to the [work] environment,” a civil engineer told HRW.

A female mechanical engineer was turned away from a job role, after being told from a company insider that she was rejected on the basis of being a woman.

“I am a mechanical engineer and I was interviewed for a position in Iran's oil and gas fields in Asaluyeh port (where the Pars special economic energy zone is based). My contact in the company told me that they really liked me, but that they did not want to hire a woman to go to the field,” 26 year-old Naghmeh from Tehran said.

The report spoke of the way misogyny is ingrained in Iranian society, putting women at an explicit institutional disadvantage. Many women are aware of the fact that their employers explicitly prefer hiring their male counterparts.

They are also often expected to work “twice as hard to prove themselves,” even if they are more qualified, or experienced than their male counterparts, which often they are because of the extortionate levels of scrutiny they face.

‘Single women only’

Even when hiring women, more often than not, married women are put at a greater disadvantage.

This is because the women who are single are seen as being less of a burden on the organisation, and more likely to commit to their role, as opposed to married women wanting to prioritise their families.

Such stereotypes, and the implication that women are unable to balance their work-personal life

“I try to be flexible with my employees and understand their limits,” Ali, an Iranian CEO said. “But since women’s top priority is family stuff, I can’t leave my business in their hands.”

Because of this attitude, women are less likely to be included in top level meetings and lose out on chances of being promoted.

“Once my boss told me to come and explain my points in a meeting, but then he immediately retracted his suggestion, saying that it’s not a good idea since it’s a men’s club,” said Safoura, who works for a consulting company in Iran.

Such attitudes have a detrimental effect on women. Despite the fact that Iranian women excel in the education sphere, with over 50 percent of university graduates in Iran being women, the Iranian legal and social infrastructures have betrayed them with women compromising only 17 percent of the Iranian workforce.

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