He’s the president of Harvard. He’s responsible for running one of the top universities in this country. And he thinks the reason girls don’t advance as quickly as men in the fields of math and science is, well, that they’re girls.
And, among other reasons he cites as his evidence for this belief he holds?
It’s one of our old favorites.
No, not the my-little-boy-chewed-his-toast-into-the-shape-of-a-pistol story (if I had a quarter for every conservative whose little boy has chewed his toast into the shape of a pistol, women wouldn’t need any help going to Harvard – I could buy them all scholarships).
It’s the other favorite:
[Lawrence H. Summers] cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls*.
Dr. Summers doesn't know that anecdotal evidence isn't evidence. Dr. Summers doesn't know about observor error. Dr. Summers doesn't see why saying this sort of thing might, oh, alarm some of his audience. Dr. Summers is running Harvard.
Bright guy, Dr. Summers.
Much more alarming than all this, though, to me, was the final paragraph of the story:
Summers already faced criticism because the number of senior job offers to women has dropped each year of his three-year presidency. He has promised to work on the problem.
See, if you don’t believe girls are as smart or as capable as men, well, you tend not to hire them.
And you tend to have very reasonable arguments for not hiring them – they didn’t interview well, or they didn’t seem as though they would work well with the team, or their research didn’t seem promising, or what the hell ever. The point is you tend not to hire them.
You tend to end up with lots of men and few women. Maybe even without actually meaning (consciously) for that to happen.
This is what opponents of AA and hiring laws just don’t get.
*Counter-example: My daughter was terrified of dolls. My daughter, upon being given a doll and a stroller by her grandmother, threw the doll away and gave rides to her dinosaurs. Fast rides. With screaming, roaring sound effects. Dinosaur stampedes, these were.
Does this mean girls like dinosaurs better than dolls? Or even that girls are noisy?
No. Just that my kid likes/is those things.
See how that works, Dr. Summers?