Kathleen Parker

The answers are implicit in the draconian reaction to Summers' invitation. Diversity on the American campus of today -- and increasingly in the broader culture -- means a multiculti rainbow of like-thinking people. Say or think incorrectly and one will be censored and potentially ruined.

Summers' original offense is shocking only if you ignore the fact that men excel in certain areas and women in others -- outcomes more likely related to our hunter-gatherer genes than to contemporary bias. Whatever the case, there's simply no denying that math giftedness is more prevalent among males, a fact some scientists surmise may have to do with testosterone exposure in the womb.

Blame the mother.

Meanwhile, if it helps mitigate nature's imbalance, we might consider that there are also more male than female mass murderers. If males get to boast Einstein, Newton and da Vinci, they also get to claim Attila, Hitler and Pol Pot.

Women who object to Summers' assertion can argue with facts, if they choose. One study found, for example, that women's scoring on math tests is influenced by whether they believe their performance is a function of genes or socialization.

Other studies also show that the gender gap in math is closing. None of these findings negate what science has otherwise revealed about boy and girl brains: They develop and operate differently.

University women do have a right to be concerned about how they are perceived as they compete with men for tenure, which women receive less often. Studies suggest that bias may play a role, but other research points to conflicts between family and career. The system may need tweaking for fairness and balance, but educators have a higher moral obligation to nurture the marketplace of ideas.

In Joseph McCarthy's day, academics were among the primary targets of the thought police, while women had barely earned a voice in the political arena. Of all who should rebel against the stifling of voices and unpopular ideas, university women should be leading the charge.

The best way to prove Summers wrong, meanwhile, is to prove him wrong.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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