- Iran: Eight Prisoners Hanged on Drug Charges
- Daughter of late Iranian president jailed for ‘spreading lies’
- IRAN: Annual report on the death penalty 2016
- Taheri Facing the Death Penalty Again
- Dedicated team seeking return of missing agent in Iran
- Iran Arrests 2, Seizes Bibles During Catholic Crackdown
- Trump to welcome Netanyahu as Palestinians fear U.S. shift
- Details of Iran nuclear deal still secret as US-Tehran relations unravel
- Will Trump's Next Iran Sanctions Target China's Banks?
- Don’t ‘tear up’ the Iran deal. Let it fail on its own.
- Iran Has Changed, But For The Worse
- Iran nuclear deal ‘on life support,’ Priebus says
- Female Activist Criticizes Rouhani’s Failure to Protect Citizens
- Iran’s 1st female bodybuilder tells her story
- Iranian lady becomes a Dollar Millionaire on Valentine’s Day
- Two women arrested after being filmed riding motorbike in Iran
- 43,000 Cases of Child Marriage in Iran
- Woman Investigating Clinton Foundation Child Trafficking KILLED!
- Senior Senators, ex-US officials urge firm policy on Iran
- In backing Syria's Assad, Russia looks to outdo Iran
- Six out of 10 People in France ‘Don’t Feel Safe Anywhere’
- The liberal narrative is in denial about Iran
- Netanyahu urges Putin to block Iranian power corridor
- Iran Poses ‘Greatest Long Term Threat’ To Mid-East Security
Wednesday 09 December 2015
70% of of Iran’s science and engineering students are women, and in a small, but promising community of startups, they’re being encouraged to play an even bigger role.
The common myth about women in Iran is that they are seen, but not heard, that they’re not permitted to drive, that they are second-class citizens, and that entrepreneurship and positions of power are out of reach. These notions are wrong. For years, women in Iran have owned and managed businesses, many of them in male dominant industries like oil and gas, construction, mining, and now tech. And now, with such a high number graduating with degrees in science and engineering, there’s a push to get women more involved in Iran’s blossoming startup scene.
20-year old Ghonche Tavoosi recently practiced pitching her startup Lendem, to a group of VC’s, including Dave McClure of 500 Startups at iBridges, a conference supporting Iran’s tech community. Through Lendem’s platform, friends, colleagues and neighbors lend each other stuff, like phone charging cables, and other items. The website keeps track of who’s got what, reminds people to give items back, and guarantees their return. Tavoosi pitched well. McClure was impressed, though he won’t make any investments in Iran until sanctions are lifted.
In an industry just starting to emerge, women are at the forefront, even if small in numbers. Two sisters, Reyaneh and Bahareh Vahidian, helped organize the first Startup Weekend for Women in Tehran encouraging female entrepreneurs to share ideas and network. Iran’s young women are considered trailblazers in the tech sector, but generations have come before them, including pioneers like Behnaz Aria.
More than 15 years ago, before anyone in Iran knew what a startup was, Aria, and her partners opened the country’s first IT training school, Kahkeshan Institute of Technology. Her challenges in the early days of trying to grow Kahkeshan are not unique to women.
“It was the beginning of IT services in Iran. At that time, our classes were mostly academic. We pretended to be big, but we were just 4-5 people. I would answer the phone in a different tone of voice, as a manager, as tech support, as a regular member of staff, just so we could appear bigger than we were.”
Quickly, Aria and her fellow founders doubled their staff and renovated an entire building to house technology labs and office space. Women make up 40% of its staff, and 37% of its students, higher numbers than ever before. As one of Iran’s great role models for female entrepreneurs, Aria is in good company.
One female founder of a petrochemical firm recalls how different things were when she was starting out in business more than twenty years ago.