Human Rights Watch is reportedly urging Iran to reconsider a recent ban on female students from applying for 77 majors. The ban that was only instituted last month includes majors such as accounting, counseling, and engineering.
This is especially surprising because Iranian history actually has a pretty good track record for women and education. Iran was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to give women access to university studies, and since 1979 has encouraged women to get a higher education.
While no clear reason for the new restriction, officials seem to think that the declining birth
and marriage rates might have something to do with the fact that more local women are now furthering their education. As of 2001, women officially outnumbered men in the Iranian college student body for the first time, and that statistic is up by 60% as of 2012.
In defense of the move, Iranian officials pointed out only 37 institutions have instituted the ban and that 90% of college courses are still open to women.