Friday, February 18, 2005

What a Pig

Yahoo! News - Harvard President Releases Transcript of Remarks on Women - "Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers released a transcript Thursday of controversial remarks he made last month suggesting that women had innately lower aptitudes for math and science than men.

The transcript — posted on Summers' Harvard website — showed that in addressing a Jan. 14 conference in Cambridge, Mass., of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the university president said that intrinsic gender differences, family pressures and employer demands played a larger role in keeping women out of top-level science jobs than discrimination.

The remarks sparked protests from female scientists and others, and Summers had been under growing pressure to release the transcript.

Summers conceded in his remarks to the gathering of economists and scientists that he was being deliberately provocative.

"So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity," Summers told the audience.

"In the special case of science and engineering," he said, "there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination."

At a meeting Tuesday of about 250 undergraduate faculty members, numerous speakers criticized Summers and used his remarks about women as an indictment of his leadership and management style.

A task force on the status of women at Harvard was appointed as a result of the president's comments.

His remarks fueled an ongoing controversy at Harvard about the decline in tenured professorships for women in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which is the university's primary academic body.

The percentage of women offered tenured positions has dropped every year since Summers became president in 2001. Four of 32 tenure offers in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were extended to women in the last academic year.

Summers has repeatedly apologized for his remarks, which he said he believed were not for general distribution.

The flap spilled over to the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., where more than 100 graduate students protested Thursday what they said was inequitable treatment of women.

The protesters faulted Yale President Richard Levin for not joining the presidents of Stanford, Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news - web sites) in denouncing Summers' comments. "

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