The Progress of Women in the Medical Field
The number of women studying and earning degrees in science and engineering has increased over the past decades. This trend is expected to continue since efforts have been concentrated on increasing the numbers that are being admitted in higher learning institutions. In Iran, the period between 1925 and 1941 saw women become empowered and participate fully in the societal activities. This was triggered by Rezah Shah’s mission to introduce modernization and westernization in Iran. Education was one of his main areas of focus and women were enrolled to study just as men did. Until 1906, the government of Iran in the Qajar period did not involve people in policy making. Women’s presence in politics and social activities was negligible. There was no provision for women in formal education apart from the Quran teachings. This changed drastically, and institutions for the education of girls were introduced, it grew to become an essential for women as from 1920 and later (Shojaei, Samsu & Asayeseh p. 258). This paper will discuss on the importance of Reza Shah’s era to Iranian women. It will illustrate the positive changes brought to the society by modernization. This will be done by comparing women’s roles in the past and present. This will show how women have reversed their roles to become influential people in the society just as men are.
The Progress of Women in the Medical Field, Iran
Reza Khan Palavi was determined to change Iran as influenced by Kemal Atatuk’s plan to modernize Turkey. With women making half of the population in Iran, this process of modernization could not be complete without including women. This was termed as “removing of the veil” to mean that Iran women were moving from the significant people in the society to prove their worth to the community. He started by abolishing the hijab in 1936, and this saw the onset of modernization with women wearing dresses. The first significant step towards establishing career among women was in 1935 when women were allowed to enrol in Tehran University. This changed a lot of things in Iran and women changed their places from domestic work to public service. Among the first professions that women were involvedinvolved in being nursing which falls under the science subjects (Shojaei, Samsu & Asayeseh p. 258).
One of the factors that have encouraged women to pursue higher education especially in the medical field is the fact that taking of care of the sick was traditionally a woman’s task. Medical field attracts the highest number of female students in Iran. In 1985, 85% of all the female students studying an associate were specializing in health care. By 1998, 58 % of all students in medicine and health care were female. All the families during that era desired to see their children study in prestigious schools and fields like medicine. This was regardless of whether they were female or male. The society had accepted the importance of education to the girl child and encouraged this by enrolling their daughters in school. The value attached by the society towards learned people especially women has also contributed to increase in the number of educated women. Talent is nurtured in the young ones by family, and this implies that the situation will be even better in the future if this trend continues (Shahidian p. 232). In as much as women in Iran were allowed to obtain education and exploit their potentials. This was more biased on the fields that suit their needs more. Medicine field was identified as one of the fields that fit the caring nature of women and was encouraged. This recognition has contributed to this field being the one that people are performing best in Iran (Weiner, p. 401).
Initially women were banned from studying maths, science and technology related subjects at the university level. Today, this has changed, and women have been given equal opportunities as men to study their subject of interest. They have been motivated by the acceptance and support given by the community. In the field of medicine and research, the number of women has been increasing steadily (Malekzadeh, para 14). The increasing literacy level of women in Iran is evident through the number of female students in the medical field. They comprise of about 58 %. This suggests that they are already outdoing the men and this trend might lead to their dominance and reverse the situation that existed before the Pahlavi Era. For instance, the Islamic government has a policy which stipulates that women should only be attended by female physicians and also female health care personnel. Considering the fact that, most of the health care issues are associated with women, this has encouraged more women to take up this role and support the society in their medical needs (Shahidian, p. 232). It has been noted that in Iran, the only field in which the number of female student admission equals or exceeds that of the male is medicine (Weiner, p. 402).
In Iran, education is segregated in such a way that the females study in their own environment while being instructed by female personnel. The evolution of this Islamic system has encouraged women to study so as to attend to the female students. This is in an effort to reduce the male to female contact while attending to patients More women are venturing the medical field since it has been identified as the one attracting the most interest. This is an advantage to the society because the more the demand the more the number of female medical practitioners in future (Shahidian p. 230). The participation of women in public service and fields such as medicine contributed a lot to the economy of Iran. There was more output than that of the past. This is attributed to the increased number of educated and working women. This has been another reason as to why women are encouraged to go to school and join prestigious fields like medicine. They not only improve their economic status but also the national economy as a well. Viewed From the family’s point of view, the situation is changed if women are able to assist their husbands in providing for the family. It brings about sharing of responsibilities and improving the quality of life (Mabokela p. 30).
Today women contribute the largest number of people in the medical field. This field contains the least number of men which is at four per cent. While the number, of men is decreasing in the science subjects, the number of women. Modernization has changed Iran and now the number of professional women is at comparable figures with countries like the USA. Despite their late entrance in the professional world, they have developed fast to match the rest of the professional women in the world (Mabokela p.64). Although the education of women has contributed positively to the society, it is feared that the power they gain may have other consequences. Issues like the increased rate of divorce and women rights may result to negative impacts to families. Issues that affect family, also affect the society as a whole. However, if these changes that they bring in the society and economy outweigh the challenges, then they should pursue education the more (Mabokela p. 70).
In Iran, the society has changed its attitude towards women who are bold enough to challenge the male dominated field. This was triggered by Palavi’s determination to bring modernization to Iran and the positive response shown by Iranian women in embracing this. Iran has changed from the traditional view that women were better suited to domestic and social careers. They are now able to work at equal levels with men, and some are known to outsmart the males in this field. The training schools have embraced their needs and have made the learning conditions accommodating for them. This acceptance has resulted to the change of the medical field from a male dominated field to one which can accommodate both sexes with equal opportunities. The conditions in the medical filed have also been adjusted for women to fit in which has contributed to their increase, as well. This coupled with the fact that they want to represent their fellow females who have health complications has resulted to their increase. It is predicted that, in future the situation may change and the female population may become the majority.
Mabokela, Reitumetse O. Soaring Beyond Boundaries: Women Breaking Educational Barriers in Traditional Societies. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2007. Print.
Malekzadeh, Reza, Mokri, Azarakhsh and Azarmina,Pejman. Medical Science and Research in Iran. nd, web. 13 June 2012. http://www.ams.ac.ir/AIM/0141/malekzadeh0141.html
Shahidian, Hammed. Coercion: Gender Politics in Revolutionary Iran. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
Shojaei, Seyedeh. , Samsu, Hasnita. & Asayeseh, Hossien A.(2010). Women in Politics: A Case Study of Iran.Journal of Politics and Law. Vol. 3, Issue 2. pp. 257-268.
Weiner, Myron. The Politics of Social Transformation in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press, 1994. Print.
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