Potential women science concentrators who declined admission to the Class of 1979 made their decision to attend other schools mainly on the basis of Harvard's location and their perception that Harvard did not adequately emphasize undergraduate education, according to a study released yesterday by the Office of Women's Education.
Those women who chose to attend the "top three contenders", Yale, Princeton and Brown, over Harvard, cited the overemphasis on graduate education as the primary reason for their choice.
According to Judith Walzer, director of the Office of Women's Education, the study was prompted by a "general concern for women going into science" especially in this "equal access era", when it was thought that the total number of science concentrators accepted by the University would decline.
Walzer said the "value of the study was in its providing yet one more insight into the way prospective applicants think of the University" especially about a group which has been accepted and "whom we would like to have" here.
In addition to the factors of location and quality of undergraduate education at Harvard, the respondents cited such reasons for their decision to go elsewhere as the fuzzy Harvard-Radcliffe relationship, the general "atmosphere" at the University, and the conditions of financial aid which they had been offered.
One woman who chose to go to Yale said: "I was given the recommendation to hold Harvard for graduate school, because then I would get the best professors; I was not convinced that the quality of undergraduate education would be as good as that which I could get elsewhere."
However, Walzer noted that the 69 percent figure for women accepting admission as prospective science majors to the Class of 1979 was not significantly lower than the percentage of non-science majors accepting admission.
Walzer said that in testing this small and somewhat specialized population what "emerges is that the reasons they chose to go to another school tended to be more general" rather than correlated specifically to their status as prospective women science concentrators.
Mary Ann Schwalbe, director of Admissions, said that while she found the study "interesting" she did not think it was "significant" since three times as many admitted applicants still choose Radcliffe over other schools, even in the sciences.
Schwalbe said she wished the study had been done in reverse, asking women science concentrators who are now at Harvard why they had chosen to come here over other schools which had admitted them.