Ensuring Women’s Access to Higher Education and Employment in Iran and Canada: A Comparative Study
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In this systematic literature review, I explored how Canadian and Iranian governments have facilitated women’s access to higher education and employment opportunities, as well as the purpose of higher education for Canadian and Iranian women, over the past four decades. I examined peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as OECD, UN, UNESCO, and UNICEF online documents and reports, to understand the dynamics of women’s educational and employment experiences. The review of the literature revealed similarities and differences between Iranian and Canadian women’s experiences in higher education and employment. In both countries, women’s access to higher education has increased over the past four decades; however, a gender gap between men’s and women’s employment opportunities persists in favour of men, particularly in policymaking and leadership positions in academia and other sectors. The intersection of gender and religion impacts Iranian women’s access to higher education positively and employment opportunities negatively while the intersection of gender, racial identity, and/or immigrant status hinders Canadian women’s educational and employment opportunities. Building on Shields (2010) transformative leadership framework and Collins’ (2015) matrix of domination, I argue that merging these two frameworks can help higher education researchers, educators, and administrators understand the experiences of individuals simultaneously belonging to multiple oppressed groups. Increasing women’s access to higher education and financially rewarding employment opportunities remains imperative across the globe. This increased access can be accomplished through building international collaborations; educating educational and employment policymakers about matrix of domination, intersectionality, and transformative leadership; and developing gender-inclusive and family-friendly policies that meet the needs of diverse women groups.