Your 8-year-old son who has trouble reading or little interest in picking up a book could benefit from the Larry Summers controversy.
That's because from out of the ashes of the Harvard conflagration is rising a nugget of something valuable. The Harvard president, as everyone now knows, speculated at a seminar that men might be overrepresented for genetic reasons in the top jobs in science and engineering at universities. While Summers surely would now retract his comments, if nothing else, he struck a blow against the dreary orthodoxy of gender sameness.
In response to the flap, Time magazine ran a cover story featuring the work of Leonard Sax, author of the new book "Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences." Sax might simply have been dismissed as a Neanderthal not too long ago. The Washington Post ran a piece exploring the different ways boys and girls learn to read.
As Sax explains, at the heart of the debate about gender is a paradox: To ignore the hard-wired differences between boys and girls is to perpetuate gender stereotypes. That's because ignoring those differences means we will continue to fail to teach many boys how to read and many girls how to do math and science. Reaching a reasonable accommodation requires some give from both sides of America's culture wars.
Liberals are often loath to admit that anything is hard-wired, believing that as long as toy trucks are thrust on girls and dolls on boys they will exist in one happy unisex stew. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to consider the current high proportion of men in math and science as an ineluctable fact to be accepted by all but the dreamiest gender utopians.