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Title:Destabilizing gender norms: Women in masculine occupations in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Author(s):Sattari, Negin
Director of Research:Bayat, Asef
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bayat, Asef
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz; Sandefur, Rebecca L.; Moussawi, Ghassan
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Middle Eastern Women
Female Labor Force Participation
Muslim Women
Abstract:This dissertation tackles the vastly discussed puzzle of women’s low rates of labor force participation in the Middle East, using the case of Iran while focusing on an under-explored perspective. Iran has one of the lowest rates of female labor force participation in the region and marks an unstable labor market with minimum institutional supports for attracting and retaining women in the workplace. Through an in-depth exploration of the experiences, challenges, and aspirations of women within traditionally masculine careers — as a group who face most severe forms of discrimination to access those sectors that fit into their needs, interests, and backgrounds — the dissertation sheds light on the shortcomings of the dominant approaches of women’s work and employment in the region in two ways. First, while women’s underrepresentation in the labor market is predominantly ascribed to patriarchal states and their conservative gender ideologies, the narratives of women who participated in this research show that the mechanisms that “gender” and “sexualize” the arena of work against women are multi-faceted and multi-level, and that the concept of state patriarchy does not capture the complexities embedded in discrimination against and inequalities toward women in the workplace. Second, while liberal-feminist accounts of women’s agency imagine women’s empowerment only in actions or movements against incidences and manifestations of patriarchy, my analysis suggests that women can empower themselves from within patriarchal discourses by strategically cultivating them to become empowering tools for their public participation and livelihoods, particularly at work. Contextualizing the narratives of participants into the broader post-revolutionary gender discourse in Iran, the dissertation examines what constitutes the core of discrimination against women and their reactions and strategies for overturning incidents of inequality and oppression. In so doing, the dissertation draws on the experiences of women from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and walks of life—not solely middle-upper class, educated women, who tend to be better represented in current scholarly and political accounts of women in work.
Issue Date:2018-06-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Negin Sattari
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08

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