This article explores how gender is threaded through the expansion and privatization of higher education in Jordan. Due to the justified current concern with the educational deficit of Muslim girls, it is easy to overlook the educational advances made by girls in some Islamic countries. In Jordan, girls have profited more than boys from the expansion of higher education. Economic or political reasons cannot explain this change, so explanations for the advancement of girls in the universities have to be sought elsewhere. I argue here that, for Jordan, this female advancement is linked to the commercialization of education set in motion by the early mission schools, the re-Islamization of society, and the prestige system of ‘culturedness’. For this article, I have drawn upon qualitative anthropological data gathered through interviews with students, staff and parents in Jordan and from an analysis of higher education statistics.