I recently talked with my advisor and several other professors from the same field about student–teacher interaction in class. Several of them said they had noticed that men participated in class and interacted with them significantly more than women, and that they thought this is a problem because:
Classes work better when students participate and there’s a dialogue
If students do not ask questions, they (professors) have no way to know whether the students are actually learning.
It is easier to recognize/get to know/appreciate a student, and therefore eventually write him/her a good recommendation letter or invite him/her to work with you if you notice said student in class.
All this got me thinking: is this a real phenomenon and if yes, why is it an issue? I think perhaps, it’s also a matter of perception: at some point in the conversation my advisor said he considered I was very quiet in class too, and I’ve never perceived myself as such.