February 28, 2005
It's All In Your Point Of View
Debra Summers nails it:
Where did Summers err? To start with, he concentrated on the wrong gender. If, for example, Summers had said that men are less likely to play the role of primary caregiver in the home, say, because men tend to be less nurturing than women, academia would have applauded his insight. There would be no charges of sexism, as sexism against men is no problem in the Ivy League.
Summers' next mistake was to be male. In his infamous speech to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Summers noted that women often don't want to work the hours needed to get to the top, that girls are "socialized toward nursing" while boys are "socialized toward building bridges." The quote that killed him: "In the special case of science and engineering, 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."
Women say -- or imply -- the same thing all the time. They demand work schedules that are friendly to mothers. They observe that women excel in social and verbal arenas -- and that's no biggie. But when a man says about women what women say about women -- it can be a career-ending offense.
If women are not 'unwilling to work 80-hour weeks' because they have children, then why on earth do employers need to consider "work schedules that are friendly to mothers"???
Of course, Summers made one more critical mistake: his remarks were factually accurate:
In recent years, scientists have found that male and female brains are wired differently because of the role of testosterone and other male hormones during gestation. Brains growing under the influence of male hormones are slightly larger and have denser concentrations of neurons in some regions.
Intelligence tests have found that men, on average, perform better on spatial tasks that require mentally rotating or otherwise manipulating objects. Men also do better on tests of mathematical reasoning. Women tend to do better than men on tasks requiring verbal memory and distinguishing whether objects are similar or different.
But is the difference really biological, or are exceptional girls and women intimidated by cultural stereotypes and discouraged from cultivating their talents from an early age?
Whatever the reason, researchers have found differences in math ability between males and females from prekindergarten through adulthood.
One wonders if these differences in male and female brain structure might also explain the different responses to data exhibited by certain female scientists:
"When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe...," Dr. Hopkins said.
If the mere mention of a repugnant hypothesis is enough to render Dr. Hopkins positively twitterpated, might we suggest she consider another line of work? Perhaps one where they take here "special needs" into account?
Posted by Cassandra at February 28, 2005 08:56 AM
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I know whenever I hear a comment such as this:
"... because men tend to be less nurturing than women..."
I just can't breathe! Oprah! Phil! Sally Jesse!
Posted by: Don Brouwhawha at February 28, 2005 09:42 AM
Don, that is a very insensitive and uncaring remark... typical male response.
Tsk, tsk :)
Posted by: Cassandra at February 28, 2005 10:26 AM