Young Arab women (illustrative only)
Young Arab women (illustrative only)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Thirty-six universities in Iran have banned women from 77 fields of study.

The ban, which was first reported Aug. 6 by Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency, will begin affecting students this upcoming year.

“Some fields are not very suitable for women’s nature,” said Abolfazl Hasani, a senior Iranian education official, according to the Iranian news website Rooz Online.

Spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State issued a statement saying, “This decision represents a significant regression for women in Iran, who have outnumbered men in universities for over a decade, and will further restrict the ability of Iranian women to find employment.”

“A number of university deans have justified their actions by stating that certain courses have a ‘manly nature’ and are not suitable for women, while Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has called the segregation effort a top priority to protect morality. These statements undermine the efforts of Iranian women to freely determine their futures and diminish the potential of the Iranian workforce,” the statement said.

“We call upon Iranian authorities to protect women’s rights and to uphold Iran’s own laws and international obligations which guarantee non-discrimination in all areas of life, including access to education,” it added.