During the hectic bustle of Freshman Week next fall, about 30 female upperclassmen will create their own center of intense activity as they take part in a new leadership conference.
Designed to help women examine their college experience and prepare them for future positions of power, the five-day conference will feature speakers, discussion groups and role playing exercises, organizers said.
The goal of the conference is to educate women about their present condition and to give them the confidence and leadership skills with which to change society, organizers said.
The workshop is to be "the beginning of an ongoing examination of leadership development at Harvard," organizer Meredith G. Lazo '89, said.
The activities will focus on topics such as modern enterprise, politics, social responsibility and community change, and personal leadership, said Amy B. Zegart '89, an organizer of the conference.
Lazo and other organizers said that they hoped the leadership conference would become an annual event.
Participants will be chosen from a pool of students who must turn in their applications by April 25.
Zegart said that the event have the backing of "Harvard College, which represents the college organization, Radcliffe [College], which represents the roles of women in college and beyond, and the Institute of Politics, which represents leadership."
The planners of the conference said they were concerned that Harvard has not created an environment in which women are sufficiently encouraged to develop their leadership abilities.
"I don't think there's blatant discrimination," against women who seek leadership positions, Zegart said. "It's more subtle...It's very difficult for women to balance the fine line between being assertive without seeming overly aggressive."
For example, Zegart said, despite the large number of women on the Undergraduate Council, only a few run for officer positions. Zegart was vice chairman of the council last year.
Another organizer, Sandra B. Lee '89, said a Harvard study has shown that women feel intimidated by men in discussion sections, and the conference will address that issue.
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