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/approachThis 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.FindingsResult 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/implicationsThe 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 implicationsThe 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/valueThe 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.
Gender in Management: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 18, 2020
Keywords: Iran; Internet; Women; Economic empowerment; Working online