Home / Interview / Iranian women ahead in education, behind in jobs
Maryam Shafiee, an Iran-based doctorate scholar in US

Iranian women ahead in education, behind in jobs

By Ali Arshad

Maryam Shafiee, an Iran-based doctorate scholar in US
Maryam Shafiee, an Iran-based doctorate scholar in US

TEMPE, US: Just like Pakistan, Iranian women are taking a lead in the admission pyramid of public universities over the last two decades, as they are usually more studious than men and gain better grades, however, they are unable to have access to equal job opportunities with men, although they are able to compete men in the job market. These thoughts were shared by Maryam Shafiee, an Iran-based doctorate scholar of electrical engineering at Arizona State University.

Following are the details of her discussion with The Educationist, a premiere education newspaper of Pakistan:

The Educationist: First of all please do tell us about your early life and education, in brief. (native city, parents, where your schooling, high school, etc )

Maryam Shafiee: I was born and raised in Tehran. My elementary school, mid school and high school all were public schools. I did my undergraduate studies at Shahid Beheshti University (National University of Iran) and my masters at Iran University of Science and Technology, both of top universities in Iran, in electrical engineering. Currently I am doing my PhD in EE at Arizona State University.

“Iranian women are having a more and more significant role in higher level education over last 100 years. Statistics show that more than 60 percent of the admitted participants in entrance exam to public universities are women.”

The Educationist: Please tell as briefly about the basic primary level, middle level and higher education system of Iran.

Maryam Shafiee: When I was going to school, the primary school included 5 years, middle school 3 years and high school was 3 years. In second year of high school the students must choose their major from one the four options, 1) Mathematics and Physics, 2) Applied science 3) Human science 4) Fine arts. The last 1 year which was named as “pre-university’ level, supposedly prepared you for the college entrance exam or Konkoor. The exam includes questions from a vast variety of topics among more than a million competitors. One could guess how significant could be the exam for the students and their parents. Recently I know the system is changed to 6 years of primary level and 6 years of high school but the rest are the same as before. Schools are either public or private which apparently are much more expensive than the other type for claiming a better preparation for Konkoor. Universities also are divided into two types: 1) Public (Governmental) 2) Private. On the contrary to public pre-college schools, the best universities in Iran are mostly public universities. Some are better than others but at the end even the not very well known public universities are considered better than private ones.

The Educationist: Where women stand nowadays in university education in Iran?

Maryam Shafiee doing work in lab
Maryam Shafiee doing work in lab

Maryam Shafiee: Iranian women are having a more and more significant role in higher level education over last 100 years. Statistics show that more than %60 of the admitted participants in entrance exam to public universities are women. Women are taking the top ranks in the admission pyramid of public universities over the last two decades. They are usually more studious than men and usually gain better GPAs in higher education levels. Nevertheless, they are not able to compete with men in the job market yet.

The Educationist: What are the pros and cons of doing an engineering degree in Iran?

Maryam Shafiee: Engineering is one of the most prestigious degrees in Iran. It is pretty hard to get admitted to engineering programs in top universities. Once you get in, you are expected to be very strong in mathematics. In my major Physics also plays a significant role. Professors mostly focus on theoretical side more than practical side of the topics. Thus, as a student in Iran you turn into more of a theoretician than a practicing engineer. There are pros and cons to this educational method. You can analyze and theorize the problems better but you may not be a well prepared practical design engineer. One of the reason for that is universities in Iran usually don’t have access to higher technology design software or high tech lab equipment. Also there is zero or very small collaboration between universities and industry.

Engineering is one of the most prestigious degrees in Iran. It is pretty hard to get admitted to engineering programs in top universities. Once you get in, you are expected to be very strong in mathematics. Professors mostly focus on theoretical side more than practical side of the topics. Thus, as a student in Iran you turn into more of a theoretician than a practicing engineer.

The Educationist: How is it difficult to be an engineering student as a woman?

Maryam Shafiee: Being an engineering student is not easy as this is a challenging area no matter in which country you study. However, I would like to explain how it is difficult to be a female engineering student. For whatever reason, engineering is most times known as a masculine area. No wonder that I often find myself in a room full of men, having not only to represent myself but also my gender. As a woman, I always have to work double; first same as every other engineer, I face the challenges and do my best to make things work, and second I have to prove myself to my male companions; that I am right and I know what I am doing; that I am a good engineer despite the fact that I am a woman!

The Educationist: Why did you decided to do your PhD in the US instead of Iran?

Maryam Shafiee: For higher level of education, US universities have more facilities and better disciplines. I wanted to do my degree in one of the most well-known universities across the world. I am most likely not able to find a proper job out of Iran with a degree from Iran but I can easily find my desirable job anywhere in the world with a degree from a top university in the US.

The Educationist: Tell us about the faculty behavior and practical facilities in ASU in your academic discipline.

Maryam Shafiee: “I’m happy to say that I have a helpful and supportive adviser. There is trust between my adviser and me, and I know she believes in me, which is especially necessary for professionalizing young scholars who are also adjusting to new culture and country. Unfortunately, I have seen some dysfunctional advisers-advisee relationships that can really break down a promising scholar’s morale: (cuts, threats, contempt,etc).”

In the case of practical facilities, we have a big lab with a variety of lab equipment that are almost sufficient for any type of testing and measurements.

The Educationist: Any weakness our suggestions for improvement regarding academic system in Iran, because you have closely observed the system here?

Maryam Shafiee: To answer briefly for my home country, open collaboration between industry and universities, focusing the curriculum on relevant subjects, trend toward practical course projects in the syllables, provide more facilities in the labs, friendly and respectful relationship between professors and students and avoid employee-boss interactions, hiring faculties based on competency not patronage.

The Educationist: What difference you have noticed in American PhD students and others including those of Iran, India and Pakistan etc?

Maryam Shafiee: There are not many American PhDs in engineering. In fact zero number in my department. They would rather at most finish a master degree and join industry for earning much more money. Students from Middle East or Asia are hard workers since they have fought with many problems to be where they are now. The other thing is since foreign students are not citizens of the US and because of their fragile immigration status, they are obliged to stay at school anyways. Hence they are very susceptible to any sort of abusing from faculties or staff.

The Educationist: What is the cost of education and living is US?

Maryam Shafiee: Tuition for my program is almost $35000 a year although I don’t pay a

Maryam Shafiee, with here class-fellows and friends
Maryam Shafiee, with here class-fellows and friends

nything since I am working as a research associate. Education costs a lot if you don’t have any scholarships. Living costs of course depends on your lifestyle. As a student for instance you might share a home with one or more people to decrease the rent cost and etc.

The Educationist: What is the difference within Maryam Shafiee before coming here and after being here. What remained missing in you if you never been to here in ASU?

Maryam Shafiee: In terms of education, I learnt a lot. I could see me as an actual engineer here. But generally speaking, living in another country was the experience I was aiming for before moving here. I learned to live by myself. ASU gave me the opportunity to meet people from various cultures and made new friends. I learned to tolerate very different opinions. Diversity is one of the ASU’s policies. If you want to learn something new or some skill ASU is the best and cheapest place for that. It’s quite an awesome experience!

The Educationist: What are your plans after completing your doctorate degree?

Maryam Shafiee: I have not decided yet. I want to live in my home country close to my family, but at the same time I am not sure if a proper job (either in academia or industry) is guaranteed for me in Iran.

The Educationist: What message you want to give to those students who are still perusing for admission in engineering doctorate in US, especially ASU?

Maryam Shafiee: Make sure you are very motivated to do this. You need to be prepared for some difficulties for sure. Starting a life by yourself is not an easy task. Add to that no friends or family, different language and culture and adapting to new environment.

Comment Using Facebook

Check Also

GCU to start a new campus, says VC

E learning is a positive phenomenon, we shouldn’t be afraid of it. Interviewed by Dr …


  1. Thanks so much for the article post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  2. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.|

  3. This is the right site for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that’s been written about for years. Wonderful stuff, just great!|

  4. I have been browsing on-line more than three hours as of late, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s lovely price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you did, the net will probably be much more helpful than ever before.|

  5. naturally like your web-site however you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to inform the truth however I’ll definitely come back again.|

  6. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!|

  7. fantastic points altogether, you simply won a new reader. What could you recommend about your post that you made a few days ago? Any certain?|

  8. I all the time used to study article in news papers but now as I am a user of net thus from now I am using net for posts, thanks to web.|

  9. 20w1KJ Really informative article.Really thank you! Really Great.

  10. cbd oil washington dc

    N0DTQX You have made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

  11. As a Newbie, I am permanently browsing online for articles that can benefit me. Thank you

  12. As a Newbie, I am constantly browsing online for articles that can aid me. Thank you

  13. Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.|

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on %meta_keyword%. Regards|

  15. It’s nearly impossible to find educated people about this subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks|

  16. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.|

  17. Hi there mates, fastidious article and pleasant arguments commented at this place, I am genuinely enjoying by these.|

  18. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!|

  19. Hello there, I think your site could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic website!

  20. Very good information. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book marked it for later!

  21. This website certainly has all the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask. |

  22. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would genuinely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Thanks a lot!|

  23. If you are going for most excellent contents like me, only pay a quick visit this website everyday as it offers quality contents, thanks|

  24. My family members all the time say that I am wasting my time here at web, but I know I am getting familiarity all the time by reading such fastidious posts.|

  25. For the reason that the admin of this website is working, no question very shortly it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.|

  26. fantastic publish, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t realize this. You should proceed your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!|

  27. You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation however I find this matter to be actually one thing that I feel I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very huge for me. I am having a look ahead for your subsequent post, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!|

  28. If some one wishes expert view about blogging after that i propose him/her to pay a quick visit this webpage, Keep up the pleasant job.|

  29. It is not my first time to pay a quick visit this web site, i am browsing this web page dailly and obtain fastidious facts from here every day.|

  30. Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?|

  31. wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost?HaHa!) Wonderful job.

  32. apabila dijumlahkan menurut totalitas, anton honifar menelanjangi lebih berasal melewati 5 kiat bakal membela bonus muluk ini. melainkan dalam tulisan ini, penuis hanya dapat mengisikan 3 tips kecuali. mau luasib serupa bersama memakai anton hanifar yang cakap meraih ratusan miliun berasal dari game slot online dolar88? maka bertindaklah bersama taktik dengan pepak antisipasi. benar-benar, kecuali lantas-baru bertindak slot online mata uang88, kita tak akan paham taktik pula trik apa pun yg inciaksud. karena maka, makin baik dolan judi slot mata uang88 secara teratur dikarenakan bersama demikian itu, waktuan bisa jadi kian kenal dengan draf pertunjukannya. melainkan, tak ada menyimpangnya kenapa belajar dari kepala yang telah rupanya sukses didalam berperan gambling slot online mata uang88. melenceng ahadnya sungguh, si anton hanifar ini. kami dolar88 telah berharap kepada ia seputar merembesan kiat dolan slot dolar88. mungkinan bisa menambahkan tebak tulisan ini kepada sadar sulit mendapat dupaan miliun dari slot dolar88.

  33. Bagi segala para pemain pasti diwajibkan punya sedikit pemahaman mengenai sistem cermat. Menang main game mpo slot online di website Mpo Slot Online. Sebelum taruhan kau mainkan. Tak kali banyak pemain tak membayangkan hal tersebut. Hampir seluruh biasanya pemain hanya menghendaki adanya suatu kemujuran dalam setiap-setiap spin yang dilaksanakan.

  34. It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!|

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.