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harvard pres and gender issues

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin....6R1.DTL I have been waiting to see if anybody commented on this. what do you think? about what he said, and about the inherent differences between the sexes and/or lack their of
post #2 of 8
Christ, that seems really blown out of proportion.
post #3 of 8
I'm a big Summers fan and I'm glad he's shaking up Harvard a bit. This is the type of stuff they need to avoid educational intertia at Harvard. The issue in question is an interesting one, IMO, and people aren't willing to discuss it due to political correctness. It was also asked in the spirit of knowledge and should have been taken in that context IMO.
post #4 of 8
"What is known is that he claimed that girls are less likely than boys to get the highest scores in standardized math and science tests, and that he suggested several explanations. Among those possible explanations, he said, was that the differences are innate that is to say, genetic." His first statement about test scores either is true or not true. My guess is that it's true. I think where he got in trouble is that he didn't follow the politically correct route of denouncing the tests as gender biased and unfair to women. It doesn't look like he was saying that women shouldn't or couldn't be top level scientists. It looks more like he was pointing out that there may be biological differences between the genders which affect the way that men and women think and reason (and perform on certain tests.) Does anyone really doubt that there are generally differences between how men and women process information and make decisions? Why is this such a dangerous idea? Understanding the differences between how men and women process information seems like a good thing if you're trying to figure out how best to educate men and women (which seems like a something a university president should be interested in.) I'm tired of the politically correct article of faith that requires me to believe (or at least pretend) that everyone has equal aptitude at everything. I believe that biology plays a role in a person's aptitudes and abilities. It's sad that this belief is considered taboo. It means that we will never come to any real understanding of the interaction between biology and aptitude.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
"What is known is that he claimed that girls are less likely than boys to get the highest scores in standardized math and science tests, and that he suggested several explanations. Among those possible explanations, he said, was that the differences are innate that is to say, genetic." His first statement about test scores either is true or not true. My guess is that it's true. I think where he got in trouble is that he didn't follow the politically correct route of denouncing the tests as gender biased and unfair to women. It doesn't look like he was saying that women shouldn't or couldn't be top level scientists. It looks more like he was pointing out that there may be biological differences between the genders which affect the way that men and women think and reason (and perform on certain tests.) Does anyone really doubt that there are generally differences between how men and women process information and make decisions? Why is this such a dangerous idea? Understanding the differences between how men and women process information seems like a good thing if you're trying to figure out how best to educate men and women (which seems like a something a university president should be interested in.) I'm tired of the politically correct article of faith that requires me to believe (or at least pretend) that everyone has equal aptitude at everything. I believe that biology plays a role in a person's aptitudes and abilities. It's sad that this belief is considered taboo. It means that we will never come to any real understanding of the interaction between biology and aptitude.
Exactly. We can't all be Mozart, we all can't be Monet, and we all can't be as talented as everyone else at everything they are. Life is horses for courses. What's next? men complaining that they can't give birth? Jon.
post #6 of 8
Of course biology may play a role in who we are. And I think the reaction to his statement was indeed too strong. However, we have to keep in mind the effects dictated by social environments. I see too many parents around me limiting their child's options because of gender. When I was 6, I wanted to play soccer. There was no female team, where I lived. My dad played soccer, so I spend many a Sunday watching him. He thought it was cute enough that I would kick the ball around, but as soon as I became more pressing, asking if I could play with the boys, he made me understand it just "wasn't done".
post #7 of 8
Read the original transcript guys.  Fabienne, you will find that Summers disagreed with your post. Larry Summers suggested three contributing factors explaining the relatively low representation of women in academia, specificall the sciences.  The first was that women often had different priorities, and thus different career trajectories.  The second of which was that the standard deviation in analyical "intelligence" was higher in men than in women.  Under this hypothesis, there would be statistically higher ratio of extremely bright men than extremely bright women.  The thrid was societal factors (generally - don't want to protract this post with a big explanation).  Only the second is really controversial.  He (Summers) then went on to say that he thought that the first two were by far the most important.  This evaluation of the importance of the various suggested contributing factors is what caused all the brouhaha. Because I am not a biologist or sociologist, I cannot comment on whether his last and particularly important suggestion was at all reasonable.  Summers is an economist, and probably shouldn't be making statements he is not an expert in either.  That's my personal opinion. And yes, his apology was the typical political non-apology.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Read the original transcript guys.  Fabienne, you will find that Summers disagreed with your post.   Larry Summers suggested three contributing factors explaining the relatively low representation of women in academia, specificall the sciences.  The first was that women often had different priorities, and thus different career trajectories.  The second of which was that the standard deviation in analyical "intelligence" was higher in men than in women.  Under this hypothesis, there would be statistically higher ratio of extremely bright men than extremely bright women.  The thrid was societal factors (generally - don't want to protract this post with a big explanation).  Only the second is really controversial.  He (Summers) then went on to say that he thought that the first two were by far the most important.  This evaluation of the importance of the various suggested contributing factors is what caused all the brouhaha. Because I am not a biologist or sociologist, I cannot comment on whether his last and particularly important suggestion was at all reasonable.  Summers is an economist, and probably shouldn't be making statements he is not an expert in either.  That's my personal opinion. And yes, his apology was the typical political non-apology.
he also seemed to be saying "please try to prove this right or wrong" - if the meeting was trying to address the problem, then he is write in suggesting that every option should be studied. I have no doubt what so ever that their are inate differences in the way men and women think. I have no doubt that there are sociological factors at play, pushing us in specific dirrections. I have no doubt that the majority of the burden of raising children fall on women and that it is very difficult to raise children and hold a challenging career. the interesting thing is to figure out how true each argument is, and how much each contribute to the status quo
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