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Physics 1 Offers New Option: All-Women Pre-Med Section

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Ten of the 70 undergraduate women in Physics 1. "Principles of Physics," have enrolled in the first all-women section offered as an option in the natural sciences at Harvard.

Afsahneh Najmadabi, a teaching fellow in Physics who proposed the all-female option at the first class meeting last Wednesday, will lead the section.

Sections will deal primarily with physics but students will also discuss problems shared by women in science, Najmabadi said.

Nahmabadi, one of only three women graduate students in the Physics department, said that many of her female students in past years had not felt free to ask or answer questions in predominantly male sections. These women would be "emotionally freer" to express themselves in an all-female section, Najmabadi said.

The woman's inferior social and economic position--not just the Harvard academic environment--causes an "emotional dependency" on men. Najmabadi said. All-female "consciousness groups" which help the woman to heighten her identity can solve this problem, she added.

Paul G. Bamberg, associate professor of Physics and head instructor in Physics 1. said the all-female section is "perfectly fine if it helps students learn with less-than-the-usual pressure involved in premed courses." Bamberg has initiated self paced written exercises and several other innovations since taking over the course.

"The idea is only objectionable if it's forced on students," Bamberg said though adding that he personally favors coeducational sections.

"I feel that our present coed classes are a good thing and present more of a relaxed atmosphere than sexually exclusive sections," he said. Bamberg taught all-male sections in Lamont before the libeary admitted women.

Bamberg said that grading in Physics-1 does not emphasize the student's section performance, and that women have usually had higher averages than men his courses.

"I've even found that women contribute more ideas to the section than men on the average, but Afsahneh well be right," he said.

Student enrolled in Najmabadi's section by stating their preference for an all-female section at the first class meeting. Bamberg said he also offered an all-male section, but no one close the option.

The ten-woman section is half the size of other sections in the 300-earollment course, and Najmabadi will lead it "on her own time" in addition to two assigned sections, Bamberg said.

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