Happy Fall!

A greeting from Brianna, one of the new interns at the Harvard College Women’s Center.

Hi, HCWC Friends!

This is the first post since May on the blog. I’m a new intern at the Dub Cee, and I’m so excited to get more involved in the community here! As a sophomore, I’m also so thrilled to be returning to campus. Despite having gone through my first year at Harvard, I feel the same excitement that I did last year about beginning the semester.

Today, I read an article from The New York Times about Harvard Business School‘s case study on gender equity. Female students were participating less in classes at HBS, and this was having a negative influence on their grades. Additionally, there were very few female professors–and of the female professors at HBS, many were rated lowly by students. The article cites one particular groping incident, and it also discusses some of the pressures that female HBS students felt in terms of balancing academics and social life/relationships/dating.

It seems like a lot of these concerns also come up in an undergraduate setting. This brings up some questions for me:

  • Is this case study just the culture of elite universities, or is this the general college experience for women?
  • Why are women afraid to speak up in class? Given that their abilities/knowledge levels are the same as their male classmates, what forces at play challenge their confidence?
  • Why do women feel this pressure to be very socially active (in a very specific way, e.g. dating and partying) while also having to balance a rigorous amount of school work?
  • Students seem critical of HBS’s attempts to change classroom culture (holding hand-raising workshops). Why is this, and what can university administration do differently to affect change?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it’s definitely worth discussing. What do you think? Comment and share!