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
One of the places these biological differences manifest themselves is the way in which our brains work. According to the Los Angeles Times, ?men and women, on average . . . possess documented differences in certain thinking tasks . . . ? Those of us who are married know this?and are glad of it. It helps me that Patty?s often more sensitive than I am. None of this means, however, that a given girl might not be a brilliant mathematician?only that, all things being equal, mathematicians are more likely to be male than female.
For further reading and information:
Who Stole Feminism? by Christina Hoff Sommers exposes the mean-spirited, male-bashing falsehoods claimed by so-called feminists, putting true feminism back on track with celebrating women's achievements, while acknowledging barriers yet to be overcome.
?Harvard president criticized for comments on women in science,? Boston Globe,
Marcella Bombardieri, ?Summers? remarks on women draw fire,? Boston Globe,
George F. Will, ?Hopkins Hysteria,? Townhall.com, 27 January 2005.
William Saletan, ?Don?t Worry Your Pretty Little Head: The pseudo-feminist show trial of Larry Summers,? Slate, 21 January 2005.
Nicholas Wade, ?Y Chromosome Depends on Itself to Survive,? New York Times, 19 June 2003. (Archived article; costs $2.95 to retrieve.)
Walter E. Williams, ?Campus exercise in anti-intellectualism,? Washington Times, 2 February 2005.
Daniel J. Hemel, ?Summers? Comments on Women and Science Draw Ire,? Harvard Crimson, 17 January 2005.
Steven Pinker, ?Sex Ed: The Science of Difference,? New Republic, 7 February 2005.
Martin Peretz, ?Body of Evidence,? New Republic, 4 February 2005.
Andrew Sullivan, ?Provocations,? New Republic, 19 January 2005. (Available to subscribers only.)
C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (Scribner, 2003 edition).