IUBio GIL .. BIOSCI/Bionet News .. Biosequences .. Software .. FTP

Encouraging girls

Tara Reed reedt at UCS.ORST.EDU
Wed Jun 15 16:44:50 EST 1994

	I was the TA in charge of a lab for an introductory Biology course 
for non-majors last term and will probably do the same in the fall.  
At the beginning of the term, when the class split up into several 
smaller groups, I followed the conventional TA wisdom and made sure that 
every group had a mix of students from different backgrounds and as close 
to a gender balance as possible (there were far more men than women in 
the class).  I'm rethinking this for fall term and would love some input.
	Two things struck me.  First, I rarely saw women doing the 
primary work at the microscopes.  For the most part men did the finding 
and focusing then stood aside so that the women could look 
(sometimes the women just took notes on what their male counterparts 
described).  The men weren't doing anything to actively discourage 
participation by women, it just seemed to be an inherent part of the 
dynamic.  Secondly, at one table the women outnumbered the men, and  
the women in that group seemed much more engaged with the subject. They 
actually scored higher on the overall class tests, which may not mean 
anything but it did get me wondering.      
	I'm thinking about trying an all women's lab group in the fall.  
I don't want to set up any antagonisms within the class as a whole or 
detract from the material they're studying.  But I am concerned that 
everyone have the opportunity to benefit equally from the lab experience.  
Is this a common problem?  If it is, then are there some ways of dealing 
with it that don't cause more problems than they solve?

Tara Reed   reedt at bcc.orst.edu  
Oregon State University   (my opinions are, of course, my own.)

More information about the Womenbio mailing list

Send comments to us at archive@iubioarchive.bio.net