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?
5 hours ago
How stupid can an educated man be? I played with dolls, but when I ate toast or a crackers, I chewed their sides off until I made them into guns, which I proceeded to aim at my serial killer to be brother and shoot with sound effects and all. I loved science and math and put off taking home economics until my senior year because it didn't appeal to me. My problem with men like President Summers is that when they predict or try to predict behaviors by gender they do in fact cause problems for potentially brilliant minds. To hire and promote on the basis of a person's gender is wrong and is breaking the law and why hasn't someone brought him up on charges? It isn't what is between the legs that makes a good employee or an intellegent person but what is between the ears and when are these people going to raise their eyesight to the place where brilliant minds operate...the head?
Well, I'm a woman in research, so here's how I see it.
It depends on how you are perceiving his comments. In his speach he said that he was going to generate controversy, and he succeeded.
It is entirely true that women who are married are, generally speaking, less likely to devote as much effort toward work and research. Taking a man in the same position who is also married, generally speaking, he is more likely to devote effort toward work and research.
It's just a fact of nature and the way woman and men have been brought up for hundreds of centuries. You can't deny history - things do not change over night. It's possible, in a few hundred years, when the differences between men and woman are less significant, that a man and a woman will be equally likely to devote time to work/research or home. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that's not the case.
I wouldn't knock someone for saying something that you just don't want to hear or accept as a possibility.
As you write:
"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."
Well, I'd have to say that this would be a minority - an extreme minority at that - of the woman population. Maybe we throw a number at that demographic (maybe, oh, less than 1% of woman).
We'd like that to be equally the case with the statement that Dr. Summers made, but that's not the way it is. The facts are skewed so grossly in the direction of the "daddy doll" and "baby doll" situation.
Go ahead, poll your neighbors. There is some pretty hard facts to his case. Nature is a meanie. Unfortunately, Nature has given females the ability to bear child and have a much stronger emotional attachment to children than men (a mother is generally more attached than the husband).
Unfortunately, that fact has it's implications.
Anonymous: You really think mothers love their children more than fathers love their children? Really? What kind of fathers do you hang around with?
Not to mention you're confusing "facts of nature" with accidents of culture (in your statement "It's just a fact of nature and the way woman and men have been brought up for hundreds of centuries."). First off, men and women haven't been brought up any one way for "hundreds of centuries." I don't think you can find me a culture where men and women have been brought up in one way for more than five or six centuries.
Second, even if they had been (which they haven't), that wouldn't make the way they act part of their nature: it would make it part of their culture.
As for knocking Summers because I didn't want to accept what he said, I didn't: I "knocked" him for (a) using anecdotal evidence as though it were actual evidence and (b) allowing his own prejudice against women to influence his hiring decisions.
Which if you had actually read the post I wrote, I'm pretty sure is obvious.
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