Monday, February 12, 2007

Women's studies

It seems natural to think that Harvard's selection of Drew Gilpin Faust as its first female president can begin to undo the harm done to the public perception of successful women by NASA's Capt. Diapers last week.

There are critics, among them author Richard Bradley who in essence told The New York Times that Faust was sloppy seconds. Was he insinuating she got the job because Thomas Cech dropped out of the running?

It's impossible not to view Faust's appointment in terms of the last Harvard president's departure -- Larry Summers's long exit began in 2005, when in a speech in Cambridge he explored the idea of intrinsic differences in aptitude between men and women in science and engineering.

Notwithstanding that the speech began with an acknowledgment he would attempt to provoke the crowd, notwithstanding that he said he thought the "largest phenomenon" that explained the lack of women in top science research jobs was the "general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity," Summers was toast when he used the phrase "intrinsic aptitude" -- "in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude."

He might as well have leaped onto the third rail.

But let's flip the question, as a Boston think tank did when it looked at boys and girls performance in public secondary schools. I won't get into the detail, just the highlights. Boys are more likely to drop out, more likely to be put in special education, more likely to struggle on standardized testing.

This prompted a Boston Globe editorialist to say that "better training regarding the cognitive differences between boys and girls should help to close the gender gap."

The cognitive differences between boys and girls.

No hue and cry followed this editorial, because saying that boys are not as smart as girls is not a big deal. Imagine if Larry Summers had said the same. I guess he kind of did.

The point? Drew Gilpin Faust has a lot to overcome in a world where even our double-standards have double-standards.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Sebastian Dangerfield said...

I'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by that number of Harvard professors. Fuck prestige- instead of making the guy resign for what he said, go try to disprove it. Bastion of free inquiry, indeed.

February 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like her boobies.

February 12, 2007  
Anonymous Pn said...

Summers's comment on 'the difference' had to do with intrinsic aptitude, the editorialist's comments and the article in question were in reference to testing, but also dropping out and special ed classes- things that can be the result of social and cultural trends and pressures (as are the testing scores). Awkward comments on issues pertaining to nature vs those on nurture.

There's also a difference between some editorialist's dinky and subjective article and an ivy league representative who's obviously just a dink.

February 12, 2007  
Anonymous holy moses said...

Here's a brief samplpling of gender statistics truly worthy of hue and cry: All 43 Presidents have been men (who also dominate both houses of Congress along with the Supreme Court), yet women make up the majority of the population in the U.S. Men make up 95% of corporate board rooms and CEO positions. About 70% of the world’s poorest people are women, and they make up the vast majority of refugees. Women are more than half the world’s population, do 2/3 of the world’s work, grow 3/5 of the world's food, yet they earn only a tenth of the world’s income and own less the a hundredth of the world’s assets. Violence - including rape, stalking, abuse, and murder - will touch the life of one out of three women. Somehow the peculiar difference in the way boys learn and behave in school, as reported by the Boston Globe, doesn't seem to affect their political, social, and economic dominance in the world. But thanks to Larry Summers for setting the record straight on life's little inconsitencies. Never mind discrimination and genuine double standards. What really holds women back is their aptitude, even though they make up the majority of students in law and medical schools. I wonder who he slept with to get that job ?

February 13, 2007  

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