DR. FARIDEH SAMADZADEH
Actively working to increase interest of female students in science and math programs is Dr. Farideh Samadzadeh, a professor of computer sciences, who has taught gifted and talented high school students at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City for 20 years.
With two of her advanced classes showing 66 percent and 75 percent female enrollment – numbers most colleges and universities would envy – she has made it her mission to encourage more female students to consider science and math as their college majors and ultimately help increase the number of Oklahoma women going into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“One of the biggest reasons there are so few women involved is that a lot of people think that there’s an impractical gender difference between men and women when it comes to science and math, and that’s not true at all,” she explains.
“The ratio of girls to boys is almost equal every year at our school, so the young women are driven and talented and good at math and science. They enjoy it. Unfortunately, too many females don’t have someone telling them they can pursue a future in this area,” she says.
Samadzadeh stresses the importance of active recruitment. In her introductory classes, she seeks out female students showing promise and explains what it takes to be successful in computer science and programming.
“I tell them that they are some of the top students in my class. Initiating a personal conversation is often all it takes to give a girl the confidence she needs to advance. Then she signs up and inevitably ends up being one of the best students in those advanced CS (computer science) classes,” she says.
“Women’s problem-solving abilities and approaches are different from men’s. I’m not saying one is better than the other or superior or inferior, just different,” Samadzadeh says. “Women think in different ways, and that’s why it’s important in any field when you are doing problem solving to have both women and men. What we are missing out on when we don’t have [both genders] solving problems together is a lot of great solutions and good ways at looking at problems.”