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Students Petition for Course on Women in Politics

A group of undergraduate women have organized a campaign for the creation of a course on women in politics.

Last week, students circulated a petition and survey over email listservs to gauge the student body’s interest for such a class. Though the Harvard Kennedy School offered a course on women and leadership this fall, the College did not offer a comparable one this academic year.

Of the nearly 200 students who responded, 70 percent said they would take the course if the College chose to offer it for either General Education or concentration credit, according to Nadia L. Farjood ’13, an inactive Crimson editor who is spearheading the campaign.

Farjood said that though the survey was somewhat informal, she found its results encouraging.

“This is important for diversity and especially in this modern era where more women are finding roads into positions of power,” Farjood said.

Farjood said she initially realized this dearth in the course catalog when searching for classes that would bolster her knowledge of the role of women in government, the topic on which she plans to write her thesis.

“I think that it’s ridiculous that at a University, especially where government is the second largest concentration, there is no class for women in political power,” Farjood said.

After her course catalog search ended in frustration, Farjood approached members of the Women’s Initiative in Leadership at the Institute of Politics and asked them to help organize her push for the creation of the course.

Women’s Initiative in Leadership Chair Victoria E. Wenger ’14, who has joined Farjood’s effort, said the proposed course is highly relevant and politically important.

“Addressing critical questions about why [gender] discrepancies remain needs to be done, particularly in academic setting like this,” Wenger said.

Farjood said the group will submit a report comprised of the survey and petition results, an outline for the proposed curriculum, and an analysis of peer institutions’ course offerings to the College administration for review.

The students have yet to select a faculty member that could teach the proposed course. According to Brandy A. L. Machado ’14, a member of Women’s Initiative in Leadership, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences does not currently employ a professor who specializes in women in politics.

Despite this deterrent, organizers said that the course they have proposed is vitally important and needs to be adopted by the College.

“Women are still very far behind in terms of leadership, and educating people in that is one of first steps to fixing the problem,” Machado said.

—Staff writer Melanie A. Guzman can be reached at melanieguzman@college.harvard.edu.

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