Nazanin Shahrokni, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Berkeley, has been awarded one of six national 2012 Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowships.
Shahrokni’s dissertation is titled “Gender Segregated Spaces: Traversing the “Public” in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made efforts to segregate urban public space along gender lines. One example is public transportation. In accordance with the precepts of Islamic law, the state segregated buses in order to provide women with a “safe” and “appropriate” space: women were relegated to the smaller, back of the buses, while men rode in the more spacious front (the rationale was that more men rode buses). Over time however, more women now use buses in Tehran. Shahrokni argues that this is partly because the segregated public transportation did in fact provide women with a feeling of security, which in turn lead to a direct increase in their presence in public spaces. Consequentially, in 2006 the Public Transportation Organization of Tehran launched women-only buses to cater to the needs of female passengers. Counter-intuitively, this further segregation of public space (women-only buses) was the result of women’s increased presence in the public space.
The Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies program, the only national fellowship for doctoral work on issues of women and gender, supports the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences doing interdisciplinary and original work on these issues.