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Economic empowerment of Iranian women through the internet

Vahideh Golzard (Department of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 23 December 2019

Issue publication date: 18 February 2020

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the extent to which the internet has created new opportunities for Iranian women in Tehran. It analyses both challenges and opportunities offered to Iranian women by the internet as a means of economic empowerment.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts a qualitative approach and based on 13 semi-structured interviews with female internet users between the ages of 20 and 55 years. The qualitative data was collected through open-ended questions in face-to-face interviews. This study uses ethnography as a research tool to explore the question of whether the internet has made a difference in the economic lives of Iranian women.

Findings

Result reveals that the internet and working online have significant impact on the economic lives of Tehrani women by enabling them to engage in new forms of online business. This technology is being used for online advertising to attract more clients, to establish business contacts with peers and to manage households positively.

Research limitations/implications

The result of the research cannot be regarded as applicable to all women in Iran, as the opportunity to access online economic activities is only available to those women who are highly trained and well-educated. In addition, the result of the research may not reflect the barriers that women from different social classes and ethnic groups have faced in the achievement of economic empowerment online.

Practical implications

The study highlights that due to a generally lack of computer proficiency, women in these areas are unable to effectively maximise their participation in the online economic sphere. This barrier must be removed by enhancing women’s computer literacy and ICT (information, communication and technologies) and establishing development networking programme centres for internet skills training.

Originality/value

The internet has created opportunity for Iranian women to expand their participation in the online economic sphere. However, research in the field of online economic activities in Iran, especially concerning women working online, is scant. The key contribution of this paper is to fill the gap in this area of study, in particular offering insights into the ways in which women use the internet to overcome the boundaries of physical space and become empowered.

Keywords

Citation

Golzard, V. (2020), "Economic empowerment of Iranian women through the internet", Gender in Management, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-11-2017-0145

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited