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Tulane Honors Program

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Did Harvard President say, "women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of math and science"?

The New York Times > AP > National > Committee Lambasts Harvard Chief's Remark

A student tipped me off to this story. I will only note that my recollection is that in the last three years most of the highest research awards in sciences at Tulane were won by women.

The New York Times requires a free registration. Well worth it, IMHO.

[Correction - Evan rightly pointed out, well not directly, but he pointed it out nonetheless, that Summers insists he did NOT say the above. Sorry for the confusion.]

3 Comments:

  • I should correct the heading by noting that President Summers only pointed out the fact that there are more men than women in the highest levels of maths and sciences (indisputable). He did not say that it was because of sex differences; he summarised different theories on the matter, one of which is that men and women have innate differences because of gender.

    I think that what is far more interesting is the response by Professor Nancy Hopkins, who was so upset that she could not even stay and listen to the 'offensive' discussion. I'm glad I don't attend Harvard; if this is what its famed level of discourse is, I think Tulanians are far better off.

    By the way, a lot of research that has come out lately shows that women ARE outpacing men in getting the better jobs in the workforce (law, finance, the academy), but the reason that not as many make it to the upper echelon is because quite a few women have a self-imposed 'glass ceiling' - they choose to leave the workforce to raise a family. (Citations can be provided upon request.)

    And now, to tie it all back to honour: if there ARE real innate differences in gender, does this have any implications for how men and women treat each other? Feminism has drilled into our minds for the last twenty years that men and women are the same, and we see that in the way modern men and women treat each other (must read on the matter: I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe). Where does honour come into inter-sex relationships? Just asking! I have lots of opinions, but I'll keep them to myself for now. :)

    By Blogger Evan, at 4:24 PM  

  • And as Evan points out Summers himself makes a similar suggestion regarding women in the work force:

    '``It's possible I made some reference to innate differences,'' he told The Boston Globe. He said people ``would prefer to believe'' that the differences in performance between the sexes are due only to social factors, ``but these are things that need to be studied.'' Another possible factor that he cited was mothers' reluctance or inability to work 80-hour weeks.'

    By Blogger Cb, at 4:55 PM  

  • This is turning into a political issue.

    It should rather be tackled from a neuroscientist's perspective. As NY Times puts it, "it's possible I made some reference to innate differences,'' he told The Boston Globe. He said people ``would prefer to believe'' that the differences in performance between the sexes are due only to social factors, ``but these are things that need to be studied.'' Another possible factor that he cited was mothers' reluctance or inability to work 80-hour weeks.

    If women are innately gifted in other areas, while men are gifted in spatial thinking and abstract reasoning, there's no reason to blind ourselves from the truth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 AM  

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