A panel of administrators and undergraduates yesterday discussed issues confronting women students at a Parents Weekend event for first-year students and their families.
The panel spoke to approximately 50 people gathered in Science Center D about Radcliffe's role in the Harvard-Radcliffe experience. Panelists talked about programs offered by Radcliffe and about the problems of women's low participation in class discussions and low enrollment in certain disciplines.
Assistant Dean of Radcliffe College Rosa B. Shinagel said that women in primarily male departments such as government, economics and physics can feel isolated if instructors do not encourage their participation.
The only time male students do not dominate discussions is when the teacher is female and the ratio of male to female students is equal, Shinagel said.
"Women in these departments feel outnumbered and feel that they can't keep up," Caitlin J. Cronin '93 said. "But they are reacting against it by forming study groups and pushing to change the teaching methods."
Mridu Gulati '93 said she felt hindered from voicing her opinions and unsure in pre-med courses she took during her first year.
Robin M. Jacoby, Radcliffe's vice-president for college relations, said in an interview after the discussion that a study at the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning revealed that "women are often not so quick to respond because they often need time to process their thoughts."
The study suggested teaching modifications designed to increase women's participation, Jacoby said.