Iran is ready to rebuild its energy industry, meet the woman trying to lead the way.

Discussion created by maria.bolanos on Jan 25, 2016

Everywhere in the world, women are standing up and making sacrifices to pursue their dream; some at a higher price than others. Meet Elham Hassandzdeh a young woman with a huge task ahead of her.


Raised in a pistachio-farming family in tradition-minded southern Iran, Hassanzadeh, 31, earned her law degree and Ph.D. in the U.K. on scholarships. She literally wrote the book on Iran’s natural gas industry since the 1979 Islamic revolution—it was published last year by Oxford University Press. She has returned to Iran to head a consulting firm, Energy Pioneers, based in Tehran and London, that’s at the vanguard of Iran’s all-out push to lure back foreign investors after the expected lifting of sanctions in coming months.


Her book, Iran’s Natural Gas Industry in the Post-Revolutionary Period—Optimism, Skepticism, and Potential, has a whole chapter on corruption and Iran’s need for legal reform. It was a hit with leaders at many of the big European oil companies that underwrite the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, according to the institute’s Howard Rogers, who spent 29 years with BP.


Yet despite her personal success, as a woman she has had to face a country that is ready to open the door to change when it comes to their industry and the way they do business, but still holds extremely traditional views regarding women, marriage, and family.


Hassanzadeh hasn’t decided if she’ll have a family. Iranian men aren’t interested in marrying women who are well-educated and financially independent, she says—“How are they supposed to control you?” Women either need to get married when they’re 17, “before you’re too intimidating,” or forget about their careers, she says.


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