Role of Education in Iran

Though education has been dominated in many fields by females, especially at the university level, it has not enabled women to enter the work force in comparative numbers. Aside from having an empowering aspect for women, some scholars note increased schooling has yet to result in paid employment increases or roles in authoritative positions of employment. While female participation in the paid economy was shown to increase by a third after the Iranian Revolution, the seemingly optimistic figure was attributed more so to the continued employment of women already in the labor force rather than an increase in newly graduated women successfully entering it. Whereas 23.5 million men held paid positions in the Iranian economy in 2006, for instance, merely 3.5 million Iranian women obtained similar positions, or 20 percent of the labor force pool.

The increase in educational opportunities has also not correlated with an increase in the number of educated women entering decision-making positions in government or the private economy. Women are largely absent from high-level full-time professorship positions or as heads of institutions of higher educations, a reality made more difficult by the low enrollment rate of women at the master's and specialized doctorate levels of education that are necessary for positions in university-level positions. Some scholars have argued that education has contributed to female self-empowerment, giving women a task to achieve that is outside the home even if it does lead to viable employment.

Survey evidence indicates that young educated Iranian women view education as important or very important to a female in Iranian society, more so than other members of Iranian society. More of these educated youth also believe, more so than their non-educated and older female compatriots, that their daughters should marry following attendance of an institution of higher education. The education of Iranian women has correspondingly led to a delayed entry into marriage, with non-educated females more than half as likely to be married by the time they turn 22 years old than educated peers. Education is also shown to contribute to the delayed start of having a family, with the majority of educated women having their first child by the age of 24, 4 years later than non-educated women in Iran.