Carol Platt Liebau

Monday, January 17, 2005

Poor Lawrence Summers. Harvard's President has been caught committing political incorrectness, and it's going to be ugly.

What did he do? Well, at an economic conference, he suggested that there might be "innate differences" between men and women that explain why there are relatively fewer women in math and the sciences than in, say, the humanities.

As a result, the usual type of hysterical feminists are on a rampage. According to Harvard grad and Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist Nancy Hopkins, "It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young women (at Harvard) are being led by a man who views them this way."

Well, if that's the quality of Hopkins' reasoning, it looks to me like she might have gotten her impressive job because she's a woman, not in spite of it. Give me a break.

From the story, it seems clear that Summers did not say that woman aren't as brilliant, capable, interesting, or worthy as men. He merely had the temerity to suggest that there may be some differences in brain structure that help men excel at some things, women at others. Hate to break it to the feminists, but that's become such common knowledge that even Psychology Today is writing about it. For his part, Summers only said that the issue merits study.

And so it does. It seems to me that Summers may be on to something. In so many areas, women are outpacing men -- law school admissions, med school admissions, high school graduation, the list goes on. Why not in math and the sciences? Are these feminists trying to assert that those disciplines, alone, are some bastion of gender discrimination?

Here's an even more provocative thought . . . math and the sciences are one of the few areas left where achievement is readily quantifiable, and the standards haven't changed. (Kind of like the Marines). If someone were really a misogynist, he could suggest that many of the "gains" we've seen in the "softer" areas of academe are attributable to the restructuring -- or even the lowering -- of many standards (kind of like the physical standards in the Army). In my view, that would be wrong, but perhaps it would merit further study.

One thing is certain: The hysteria with which some women greet innocuous remarks like Summers' suggest that they are far less secure about their own -- and their "sisters'" -- capabilities.

They need to get over it. For years, the rational world has known that there are some real, immutable differences between the sexes. That's not a political statement; it's a recognition of reality. For feminists to continue to ignore these differences -- and to equate any discussion of them with an accusation that women are somehow inferior -- is just crazy.

Larry Summers deserves a break on this one. Then again, perhaps he's learning just how oppressive the kind of PC-speak that dominates academia can be -- not just for conservatives, but for anyone with an opinion that defies radical chic received wisdom.


Blogger TeacherJoeInLA said...

Bravo Carol
It distressed me though it did not suprise me that Summers was being scoured even though there were no quotes or transcripts of the speech published.

Thankyou for your level headdedness - how unusual in a wo .... no no noI didn't mean that ... I mean women aren't usually capable of .... no

All joking aside. Its vital to have intellegent women speaking for objectivity. Thanks again

12:04 AM  

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