Monday, January 24, 2005

Lawrence Summers - Proves Stating the Obvious Can Still Get You in Trouble With the Left

(Via Babbling Brooks)

Lawrence Summers, economist and president of Havard was at a conference on the status of women in science. He seems to have created a media storm by suggesting that there were differences between the sexes which may account for their relatively small share of senior positions in the hard sciences.

Saying there are differences between the sexes isn't particularly revolutionary, a quick glance illustrates our bodies are different. While men tend to emphasize the use of our left brain while women are more divided between right and left.

Given that the left brain is to my knowledge associated with logic and analysis, it doesn't seem beyond the realms of possibility for scientists to state that males on average may have a higher aptitude for the true sciences than females. Does this mean there won't be girls whom aren't exceptionally good at science? Or males who won't be better at the humanities and social sciences? No - it simply refers to an average disposition.

Of course he's appologizing profusely.

However, other participants at the conference noted -

Freeman and several other participants at last Friday's conference say Summers has been portrayed unfairly. They say he was simply outlining possible reasons why women aren't filling as many top science jobs as men.

"He didn't say anything that people in that room didn't have in their own minds," said Claudia Goldin, another Harvard and NBER economist who attended the conference. Goldin said Summers simply summarized research from papers presented at the conference. "Why can they say them and he can't?"

While a Washtington Post columist points out the hypocracy of the feminist outrage over the matter.

Many of the same people denouncing Summers, I'd venture, believe fervently that homosexuality, for example, is a matter of biology rather than of choice or childhood experience. Many would demand that medical studies be structured to consider differences between men and women in metabolizing drugs, say, or responding to a particular disease. And many who find Summers's remarks offensive seem perfectly happy to trumpet the supposed attributes that women bring to the workplace -- that they are more intuitive, or more empathetic or some such. If that is so -- and I've always rather cringed at such assertions -- why is it impermissible to suggest that there might be some downside differences as well?

Yes feminists, if you want to talk about how much more caring and understanding things are when women are in control of the workplaceand how all that male machismo is bad for the world, we'll point out we're much better at toiling away in labs across the world trying to create a better viagra drug.

However, I think there is ready ancetodial evidence for the claim that males may simply be better at science. Ask any experienced teacher whose taught a gamut of courses at an elementary or high school level and their likely to observe that males are relatively stronger in science and math than they are in other courses. I've heard this frequently from my dad who taught for 30 years and from his friends.

Some would respond that the courses are taught in a way which is biased towards males, which isn't really true as there was evidently a push for a number of years to make science more girl friendly. My father has always wanted to know where has the push been to make english more male friendly? I tended to agree because every time you had a female teacher in an English course which was at least half the time you got the most wretchedly boring novels and plays to study.

Seriously, how many 15 year old males want to study or find Romeo and Julliet interesting? Give them Henry the Vth and they might pay attention.


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