Educated idiotsI read that Harvard President Larry Summers has stepped in it. Bill Clinton's last treasury secretary claimed that women have less 'innate ability' in math and science than do men.
He argued that argued one group [men] outperformed the other because of genetics, not just experience adding that that the shortage of senior female academics was partly because of child-minding duties.
Which begs the question: are child-minding duties genetic or social?
Dr Summers said the theory that men were more naturally able at sciences was based on research, not his own opinions.
but added in a statement after the controversy erupted:
My remarks have been misconstrued as suggesting that women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of math and science. I did not say that, nor do I believe it.
That clears things up.
If women have less 'innate ability' than men at math and science, doesn't it logically follow that schools should steer girls away from those specialities? Is that what Summers is advocating?
In such controversies, I usually prefer seeing the original transcript, rather than paraphrasing. But I could not find the transcript of Summers' original speech, or even excerpts, on the Harvard website, but his "clarification" was.
The more interesting question is not whether Summers' assertion is true, but why the president of arguably America's most prestigious university would want to go out of his way to alienate half of the country's population? What purpose, academic or commercial, do his comments serve? To prove that the embodiment of 'liberal academia' can be just as politically incorrect (ie: gratiutiously obnoxious) as those they would deem rednecks?
I suspect qualified female science professors will think long and hard before seeking a post at Harvard over its competitors.