I understand why Harvard president Lawrence Summers might be confused. Speaking at a conference about ?diversifying the science and engineering workforce,? he thought that science might have something to do with the subject. He was wrong.
The subject was why ?relatively few women become scientists or engineers.? Besides the obligatory nod to discrimination on the part of universities, Summers noted the differences in math test scores. While, on average, boys and girls score approximately the same, more boys than girls score in both the highest and lowest percentiles.
Summers reportedly mentioned ?innate? and/or ?natural? differences between the sexes: the differences reflected in the test scores. That?s when the fur flew. MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins told the Boston Globe that she thought that she was going to be sick. ?This kind of bias? left her with no choice but to flee the room. If she had stayed, she risked ?blacking out.?
What?s not funny is that Hopkins and others succeeded in getting Summers to apologize for ?sending an unintended signal of discouragement to talented girls and women.? What nonsense! The only ?signal of discouragement? being sent in this affair was by
That signal was intended to enforce the idea that differences between men and women are ?socially constructed.? Aside from the inconvenient fact that only women can get pregnant and bear children, there?s no reason that women and men shouldn?t be interchangeable, whether at home or at work.
Unfortunately for Hopkins and company, as John Adams once said, ?facts are stubborn things . . . our wishes [and] the dictates of our passion . . . cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.? As