Today I attended a meeting at PEER (Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research) head quarters, here in Berkeley, with a team of visiting engineers from Pakistan. They were mostly interested to learn about the progress in earthquake engineering practice and research in the U.S. and the performance and success of research supported by government organizations. During the meeting, from what I heard, I thought Pakistan and Iran have a lot in common (culturally and socially) and creating joint programs between the two countries can be effective in their progress.
Another topic of interest in this meeting was how to increase women participation in engineering, in Pakistan. The last topic was especially of interest to me, as there seems to be a fast trend of increasing women engineers both in practice and in academia across the world. I’m eager to know exactly what portion of engineering students in Iran are women. As a high school student in Tehran, I remember that engineering was a hot topic and many of my friends dreamed of becoming engineers and getting the title of “khaanoom mohandess.” It seems to be different here in the U.S as (I think) science is the focus in most high schools and math and engineering are commonly detested.
This can be a controversial topic, but I think it’s generally thought here that female engineers are better employees for their detailed calculations and analyses. Of course this can be a topic to debate, but I also think perhaps the increase in female participation in both design and construction in a city like Tehran will lead to less corruption in the system and therefore better buildings and infrastructure. The downside to having women involved in the construction industry may be the cultural issues with having a female engineer ordering around male construction workers and other male engineers none of whom are used to the situation. What are your thoughts?