An Exploration of Female Students’ Choices, Experiences and Future Aspirations of Studying Undergraduate Mathematics and Engineering Programmes in Iran

  • Nooshin Jahangiri

Student thesis: Phd


This study investigates the relationship between gender and participation in mathematics and engineering undergraduate degree programmes in Iran. The number of female students enrolling in Iranian Higher Education (HE) is relatively high and this remains the case in mathematics and most engineering programmes. However, the number of female graduates gaining employment in engineering and STEM-[science, technology, engineering and mathematics] related jobs in Iran remains relatively low, with gender discrimination in recruitment practices identified as a key barrier. This presents a contradiction which makes Iran a particularly interesting context to study gender in mathematics and engineering in HE. This study adopts a narrative inquiry approach to investigate how Iranian female students studying mathematics and engineering describe their choice of subject, experience of studying at university, and their future aspirations. It seeks to investigate how the social, cultural and historical structures of Iranian society shape the way these students narrate their identity as a mathematics or engineering student. In-depth analysis highlights how they position their degree as offering more or less ‘capital’ (Bourdieu) which resources their future identities of becoming successful career women in STEM-related professions. In doing so, these women feel able to navigate barriers to success by using their capital to improvise and exert agency over their future trajectories. In sum, I suggest the predominance of ‘moving abroad’ as a theme across the interviews is a consequence of the aforementioned contradiction between their desire to become successful career women whilst facing gendered discrimination in the labour market.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPauline Prevett (Supervisor) & Laura Black (Supervisor)

Cite this