[Paleopsych] Larry Summers: Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce

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Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce 

[The 1/14 referred to in the Edge 158 on assortive mating theory I sent a 
moment ago was evidently this conference where Summers undertook his 
wicked hypothesizing that caused at least one audience member to leave 
lest she vomit.]

Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering
Lawrence H. Summers
Cambridge, Mass.
January 14, 2005

    I asked Richard, when he invited me to come here and speak, whether he
    wanted an institutional talk about Harvard's policies toward diversity
    or whether he wanted some questions asked and some attempts at
    provocation, because I was willing to do the second and didn't feel
    like doing the first. And so we have agreed that I am speaking
    unofficially and not using this as an occasion to lay out the many
    things we're doing at Harvard to promote the crucial objective of
    diversity. There are many aspects of the problems you're discussing
    and it seems to me they're all very important from a national point of
    view. I'm going to confine myself to addressing one portion of the
    problem, or of the challenge we're discussing, which is the issue of
    women's representation in tenured positions in science and engineering
    at top universities and research institutions, not because that's
    necessarily the most important problem or the most interesting
    problem, but because it's the only one of these problems that I've
    made an effort to think in a very serious way about. The other
    prefatory comment that I would make is that I am going to, until most
    of the way through, attempt to adopt an entirely positive, rather than
    normative approach, and just try to think about and offer some
    hypotheses as to why we observe what we observe without seeing this
    through the kind of judgmental tendency that inevitably is connected
    with all our common goals of equality. It is after all not the case
    that the role of women in science is the only example of a group that
    is significantly underrepresented in an important activity and whose
    underrepresentation contributes to a shortage of role models for
    others who are considering being in that group. To take a set of
    diverse examples, the data will, I am confident, reveal that Catholics
    are substantially underrepresented in investment banking, which is an
    enormously high-paying profession in our society; that white men are
    very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball
    Association; and that Jews are very substantially underrepresented in
    farming and in agriculture. These are all phenomena in which one
    observes underrepresentation, and I think it's important to try to
    think systematically and clinically about the reasons for

    There are three broad hypotheses about the sources of the very
    substantial disparities that this conference's papers document and
    have been documented before with respect to the presence of women in
    high-end scientific professions. One is what I would call the-I'll
    explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I
    think they are-the first is what I call the high-powered job
    hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of
    aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different
    socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my
    own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I
    just described.

    Maybe it would be helpful to just, for a moment, broaden the problem,
    or the issue, beyond science and engineering. I've had the opportunity
    to discuss questions like this with chief executive officers at major
    corporations, the managing partners of large law firms, the directors
    of prominent teaching hospitals, and with the leaders of other
    prominent professional service organizations, as well as with
    colleagues in higher education. In all of those groups, the story is
    fundamentally the same. Twenty or twenty-five years ago, we started to
    see very substantial increases in the number of women who were in
    graduate school in this field. Now the people who went to graduate
    school when that started are forty, forty-five, fifty years old. If
    you look at the top cohort in our activity, it is not only nothing
    like fifty-fifty, it is nothing like what we thought it was when we
    started having a third of the women, a third of the law school class
    being female, twenty or twenty-five years ago. And the relatively few
    women who are in the highest ranking places are disproportionately
    either unmarried or without children, with the emphasis differing
    depending on just who you talk to. And that is a reality that is
    present and that one has exactly the same conversation in almost any
    high-powered profession. What does one make of that? I think it is
    hard-and again, I am speaking completely descriptively and
    non-normatively-to say that there are many professions and many
    activities, and the most prestigious activities in our society expect
    of people who are going to rise to leadership positions in their
    forties near total commitments to their work. They expect a large
    number of hours in the office, they expect a flexibility of schedules
    to respond to contingency, they expect a continuity of effort through
    the life cycle, and they expect-and this is harder to measure-but they
    expect that the mind is always working on the problems that are in the
    job, even when the job is not taking place. And it is a fact about our
    society that that is a level of commitment that a much higher fraction
    of married men have been historically prepared to make than of married
    women. That's not a judgment about how it should be, not a judgment
    about what they should expect. But it seems to me that it is very hard
    to look at the data and escape the conclusion that that expectation is
    meeting with the choices that people make and is contributing
    substantially to the outcomes that we observe. One can put it
    differently. Of a class, and the work that Claudia Goldin and Larry
    Katz are doing will, I'm sure, over time, contribute greatly to our
    understanding of these issues and for all I know may prove my
    conjectures completely wrong. Another way to put the point is to say,
    what fraction of young women in their mid-twenties make a decision
    that they don't want to have a job that they think about eighty hours
    a week. What fraction of young men make a decision that they're
    unwilling to have a job that they think about eighty hours a week, and
    to observe what the difference is. And that has got to be a large part
    of what is observed. Now that begs entirely the normative
    questions-which I'll get to a little later-of, is our society right to
    expect that level of effort from people who hold the most prominent
    jobs? Is our society right to have familial arrangements in which
    women are asked to make that choice and asked more to make that choice
    than men? Is our society right to ask of anybody to have a prominent
    job at this level of intensity, and I think those are all questions
    that I want to come back to. But it seems to me that it is impossible
    to look at this pattern and look at its pervasiveness and not conclude
    that something of the sort that I am describing has to be of
    significant importance. To buttress conviction and theory with
    anecdote, a young woman who worked very closely with me at the
    Treasury and who has subsequently gone on to work at Google highly
    successfully, is a 1994 graduate of Harvard Business School. She
    reports that of her first year section, there were twenty-two women,
    of whom three are working full time at this point. That may, the dean
    of the Business School reports to me, that that is not an implausible
    observation given their experience with their alumnae. So I think in
    terms of positive understanding, the first very important reality is
    just what I would call the, who wants to do high-powered intense work?

    The second thing that I think one has to recognize is present is what
    I would call the combination of, and here, I'm focusing on something
    that would seek to answer the question of why is the pattern different
    in science and engineering, and why is the representation even lower
    and more problematic in science and engineering than it is in other
    fields. And here, you can get a fair distance, it seems to me, looking
    at a relatively simple hypothesis. It does appear that on many, many
    different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality,
    overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is
    relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which
    can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and
    variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with
    respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally
    determined. If one supposes, as I think is reasonable, that if one is
    talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one
    is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the
    mean. And perhaps it's not even talking about somebody who is three
    standard deviations above the mean. But it's talking about people who
    are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the
    one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class. Even small differences in the
    standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the
    available pool substantially out. I did a very crude calculation,
    which I'm sure was wrong and certainly was unsubtle, twenty different
    ways. I looked at the Xie and Shauman paper-looked at the book,
    rather-looked at the evidence on the sex ratios in the top 5% of
    twelfth graders. If you look at those-they're all over the map,
    depends on which test, whether it's math, or science, and so forth-but
    50% women, one woman for every two men, would be a high-end estimate
    from their estimates. From that, you can back out a difference in the
    implied standard deviations that works out to be about 20%. And from
    that, you can work out the difference out several standard deviations.
    If you do that calculation-and I have no reason to think that it
    couldn't be refined in a hundred ways-you get five to one, at the high
    end. Now, it's pointed out by one of the papers at this conference
    that these tests are not a very good measure and are not highly
    predictive with respect to people's ability to do that. And that's
    absolutely right. But I don't think that resolves the issue at all.
    Because if my reading of the data is right-it's something people can
    argue about-that there are some systematic differences in variability
    in different populations, then whatever the set of attributes are that
    are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer
    at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley, those are probably different in
    their standard deviations as well. So my sense is that the unfortunate
    truth-I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would
    be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if
    something else were true-is that the combination of the high-powered
    job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair
    amount of this problem.

    There may also be elements, by the way, of differing, there is some,
    particularly in some attributes, that bear on engineering, there is
    reasonably strong evidence of taste differences between little girls
    and little boys that are not easy to attribute to socialization. I
    just returned from Israel, where we had the opportunity to visit a
    kibbutz, and to spend some time talking about the history of the
    kibbutz movement, and it is really very striking to hear how the
    movement started with an absolute commitment, of a kind one doesn't
    encounter in other places, that everybody was going to do the same
    jobs. Sometimes the women were going to fix the tractors, and the men
    were going to work in the nurseries, sometimes the men were going to
    fix the tractors and the women were going to work in the nurseries,
    and just under the pressure of what everyone wanted, in a hundred
    different kibbutzes, each one of which evolved, it all moved in the
    same direction. So, I think, while I would prefer to believe
    otherwise, I guess my experience with my two and a half year old twin
    daughters who were not given dolls and who were given trucks, and
    found themselves saying to each other, look, daddy truck is carrying
    the baby truck, tells me something. And I think it's just something
    that you probably have to recognize. There are two other hypotheses
    that are all over. One is socialization. Somehow little girls are all
    socialized towards nursing and little boys are socialized towards
    building bridges. No doubt there is some truth in that. I would be
    hesitant about assigning too much weight to that hypothesis for two
    reasons. First, most of what we've learned from empirical psychology
    in the last fifteen years has been that people naturally attribute
    things to socialization that are in fact not attributable to
    socialization. We've been astounded by the results of separated twins
    studies. The confident assertions that autism was a reflection of
    parental characteristics that were absolutely supported and that
    people knew from years of observational evidence have now been proven
    to be wrong. And so, the human mind has a tendency to grab to the
    socialization hypothesis when you can see it, and it often turns out
    not to be true. The second empirical problem is that girls are
    persisting longer and longer. When there were no girls majoring in
    chemistry, when there were no girls majoring in biology, it was much
    easier to blame parental socialization. Then, as we are increasingly
    finding today, the problem is what's happening when people are twenty,
    or when people are twenty-five, in terms of their patterns, with which
    they drop out. Again, to the extent it can be addressed, it's a
    terrific thing to address.

    The most controversial in a way, question, and the most difficult
    question to judge, is what is the role of discrimination? To what
    extent is there overt discrimination? Surely there is some. Much more
    tellingly, to what extent are there pervasive patterns of passive
    discrimination and stereotyping in which people like to choose people
    like themselves, and the people in the previous group are
    disproportionately white male, and so they choose people who are like
    themselves, who are disproportionately white male. No one who's been
    in a university department or who has been involved in personnel
    processes can deny that this kind of taste does go on, and it is
    something that happens, and it is something that absolutely,
    vigorously needs to be combated. On the other hand, I think before
    regarding it as pervasive, and as the dominant explanation of the
    patterns we observe, there are two points that should make one
    hesitate. The first is the fallacy of composition. No doubt it is true
    that if any one institution makes a major effort to focus on reducing
    stereotyping, on achieving diversity, on hiring more people, no doubt
    it can succeed in hiring more. But each person it hires will come from
    a different institution, and so everyone observes that when an
    institution works very hard at this, to some extent they are able to
    produce better results. If I stand up at a football game and everybody
    else is sitting down, I can see much better, but if everybody stands
    up, the views may get a little better, but they don't get a lot
    better. And there's a real question as to how plausible it is to
    believe that there is anything like half as many people who are
    qualified to be scientists at top ten schools and who are now not at
    top ten schools, and that's the argument that one has to make in
    thinking about this as a national problem rather than an individual
    institutional problem. The second problem is the one that Gary Becker
    very powerfully pointed out in addressing racial discrimination many
    years ago. If it was really the case that everybody was
    discriminating, there would be very substantial opportunities for a
    limited number of people who were not prepared to discriminate to
    assemble remarkable departments of high quality people at relatively
    limited cost simply by the act of their not discriminating, because of
    what it would mean for the pool that was available. And there are
    certainly examples of institutions that have focused on increasing
    their diversity to their substantial benefit, but if there was really
    a pervasive pattern of discrimination that was leaving an
    extraordinary number of high-quality potential candidates behind, one
    suspects that in the highly competitive academic marketplace, there
    would be more examples of institutions that succeeded substantially by
    working to fill the gap. And I think one sees relatively little
    evidence of that. So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind
    all of 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, that 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. I would like
    nothing better than to be proved wrong, because I would like nothing
    better than for these problems to be addressable simply by everybody
    understanding what they are, and working very hard to address them.

    What's to be done? And what further questions should one know the
    answers to? Let me take a second, first to just remark on a few
    questions that it seems to me are ripe for research, and for all I
    know, some of them have been researched. First, it would be very
    useful to know, with hard data, what the quality of marginal hires are
    when major diversity efforts are mounted. When major diversity efforts
    are mounted, and consciousness is raised, and special efforts are
    made, and you look five years later at the quality of the people who
    have been hired during that period, how many are there who have turned
    out to be much better than the institutional norm who wouldn't have
    been found without a greater search. And how many of them are
    plausible compromises that aren't unreasonable, and how many of them
    are what the right-wing critics of all of this suppose represent clear
    abandonments of quality standards. I don't know the answer, but I
    think if people want to move the world on this question, they have to
    be willing to ask the question in ways that could face any possible
    answer that came out. Second, and by the way, I think a more
    systematic effort to look at citation records of male and female
    scholars in disciplines where citations are relatively well-correlated
    with academic rank and with people's judgments of quality would be
    very valuable. Of course, most of the critiques of citations go to
    reasons why they should not be useful in judging an individual
    scholar. Most of them are not reasons why they would not be useful in
    comparing two large groups of scholars and so there is significant
    potential, it seems to me, for citation analysis in this regard.
    Second, what about objective versus subjective factors in hiring? I've
    been exposed, by those who want to see the university hiring practices
    changed to favor women more and to assure more diversity, to two very
    different views. One group has urged that we make the processes
    consistently more clear-cut and objective, based on papers, numbers of
    papers published, numbers of articles cited, objectivity, measurement
    of performance, no judgments of potential, no reference to other
    things, because if it's made more objective, the subjectivity that is
    associated with discrimination and which invariably works to the
    disadvantage of minority groups will not be present. I've also been
    exposed to exactly the opposite view, that those criteria and those
    objective criteria systematically bias the comparisons away from many
    attributes that those who contribute to the diversity have: a greater
    sense of collegiality, a greater sense of institutional
    responsibility. Somebody ought to be able to figure out the answer to
    the question of, if you did it more objectively versus less
    objectively, what would happen. Then you can debate whether you should
    or whether you shouldn't, if objective or subjective is better. But
    that question ought to be a question that has an answer, that people
    can find. Third, the third kind of question is, what do we know about
    search procedures in universities? Is it the case that more systematic
    comprehensive search processes lead to minority group members who
    otherwise would have not been noticed being noticed? Or does
    fetishizing the search procedure make it very difficult to pursue the
    targets of opportunity that are often available arising out of
    particular family situations or particular moments, and does
    fetishizing and formalizing search procedures further actually work to
    the disadvantage of minority group members. Again, everybody's got an
    opinion; I don't think anybody actually has a clue as to what the
    answer is. Fourth, what do we actually know about the incidence of
    financial incentives and other support for child care in terms of what
    happens to people's career patterns. I've been struck at Harvard that
    there's something unfortunate and ironic about the fact that if you're
    a faculty member and you have a kid who's 18 who goes to college, we
    in effect, through an interest-free loan, give you about $9,000. If
    you have a six-year-old, we give you nothing. And I don't think we're
    very different from most other universities in this regard, but there
    is something odd about that strategic choice, if the goal is to
    recruit people to come to the university. But I don't think we know
    much about the child care issue. The fifth question-which it seems to
    me would be useful to study and to actually learn the answer to-is
    what do we know, or what can we learn, about the costs of career
    interruptions. There is something we would like to believe. We would
    like to believe that you can take a year off, or two years off, or
    three years off, or be half-time for five years, and it affects your
    productivity during the time, but that it really doesn't have any
    fundamental effect on the career path. And a whole set of conclusions
    would follow from that in terms of flexible work arrangements and so
    forth. And the question is, in what areas of academic life and in what
    ways is it actually true. Somebody reported to me on a study that they
    found, I don't remember who had told me about this-maybe it was you,
    Richard-that there was a very clear correlation between the average
    length of time, from the time a paper was cited. That is, in fields
    where the average papers cited had been written nine months ago, women
    had a much harder time than in fields where the average thing cited
    had been written ten years ago. And that is suggestive in this regard.
    On the discouraging side of it, someone remarked once that no
    economist who had gone to work at the President's Council of Economic
    Advisors for two years had done highly important academic work after
    they returned. Now, I'm sure there are counterexamples to that, and
    I'm sure people are kind of processing that Tobin's Q is the
    best-known counterexample to that proposition, and there are obviously
    different kinds of effects that happen from working in Washington for
    two years. But it would be useful to explore a variety of kinds of
    natural interruption experiments, to see what actual difference it
    makes, and to see whether it's actually true, and to see in what ways
    interruptions can be managed, and in what fields it makes a
    difference. I think it's an area in which there's conviction but where
    it doesn't seem to me there's an enormous amount of evidence. What
    should we all do? I think the case is overwhelming for employers
    trying to be the [unintelligible] employer who responds to everybody
    else's discrimination by competing effectively to locate people who
    others are discriminating against, or to provide different
    compensation packages that will attract the people who would otherwise
    have enormous difficulty with child care. I think a lot of discussion
    of issues around child care, issues around extending tenure clocks,
    issues around providing family benefits, are enormously important. I
    think there's a strong case for monitoring and making sure that
    searches are done very carefully and that there are enough people
    looking and watching that that pattern of choosing people like
    yourself is not allowed to take insidious effect. But I think it's
    something that has to be done with very great care because it slides
    easily into pressure to achieve given fractions in given years, which
    runs the enormous risk of people who were hired because they were
    terrific being made to feel, or even if not made to feel, being seen
    by others as having been hired for some other reason. And I think
    that's something we all need to be enormously careful of as we
    approach these issues, and it's something we need to do, but I think
    it's something that we need to do with great care.

    Let me just conclude by saying that I've given you my best guesses
    after a fair amount of reading the literature and a lot of talking to
    people. They may be all wrong. I will have served my purpose if I have
    provoked thought on this question and provoked the marshalling of
    evidence to contradict what I have said. But I think we all need to be
    thinking very hard about how to do better on these issues and that
    they are too important to sentimentalize rather than to think about in
    as rigorous and careful ways as we can. That's why I think conferences
    like this are very, very valuable. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

    Q: Well, I don't want to take up much time because I know other people
    have questions, so, first of all I'd like to say thank you for your
    input. It's very interesting-I noticed it's being recorded so I hope
    that we'll be able to have a copy of it. That would be nice.

    LHS: We'll see. (LAUGHTER)

    Q: Secondly, you make a point, which I very much agree with, that this
    is a wonderful opportunity for other universities to hire women and
    minorities, and you said you didn't have an example of an instance in
    which that is being done. The chemistry department at Rutgers is doing
    that, and they are bragging about it and they are saying, "Any woman
    who is having problems in her home department, send me your resume."
    They are now at twenty-five percent women, which is double the
    national average-among the top fifty universities-so I agree with you
    on that. I think it is a wonderful opportunity and I hope others
    follow that example. One thing that I do sort of disagree with is the
    use of identical twins that have been separated and their environment
    followed. I think that the environments that a lot of women and
    minorities experience would not be something that would be-that a twin
    would be subjected to if the person knows that their environment is
    being watched. Because a lot of the things that are done to women and
    minorities are simply illegal, and so they'll never experience that.

    LHS: I don't think that. I don't actually think that's the point at
    all. My point was a very different one. My point was simply that the
    field of behavioral genetics had a revolution in the last fifteen
    years, and the principal thrust of that revolution was the discovery
    that a large number of things that people thought were due to
    socialization weren't, and were in fact due to more intrinsic human
    nature, and that set of discoveries, it seemed to me, ought to
    influence the way one thought about other areas where there was a
    perception of the importance of socialization. I wasn't at all trying
    to connect those studies to the particular experiences of women and
    minorities who were thinking about academic careers.

    Q: Raising that particular issue, as a biologist, I neither believe in
    all genetic or all environment, that in fact behavior in any other
    country actually develops [unintelligible] interaction of those
    aspects. And I agree with you, in fact, that it is wrong-headed to
    just dismiss the biology. But to put too much weight to it is also
    incredibly wrong-headed, given the fact that had people actually had
    different kinds of opportunities, and different opportunities for
    socialization, there is good evidence to indicate in fact that it
    would have had different outcomes. I cite by way of research the
    [unintelligible] project in North Carolina, which essentially shows
    that, where every indicator with regard to mother's education,
    socioeconomic status, et cetera, would have left a kid in a particular
    place educationally, that, essentially, they are seeing totally
    different outcomes with regard to performance, being referred to
    special education, et cetera, so I think that there is some evidence
    on that particular side. The other issue is this whole question about
    objective versus subjective. I think that it is very difficult to have
    anything that is basically objective, and the work of [unintelligible]
    I think point out that in a case where you are actually trying to-this
    case from the Swedish Medical Council, where they were trying to
    identify very high-powered research opportunities for, I guess it was
    post-docs by that point, that indicated that essentially that it ended
    up with larger numbers of men than women. Two of the women who were
    basically in the affected group were able to utilize the transparency
    rules that were in place in Sweden, get access to the data, get access
    to the issues, and in fact, discovered that it was not as objective as
    everyone claimed, and that in fact, different standards were actually
    being used for the women as well as for the men, including the men's
    presence in sort of a central network, the kinds of journals that they
    had to publish in to be considered at the same level, so I think that
    there are pieces of research that begin to actually relate to
    this-yes, there is the need to look more carefully at a lot of these
    areas. I would-in addition looking at this whole question of the
    quality of marginal hires-I would also like to look at the quality of
    class one hires, in terms of seeing who disappoints, and what it was
    that they happened to be looking at and making judgments on, and then
    what the people could not deliver. So I think that there is a real
    great need on both sides to begin to talk about whether or not we can
    predict. I hate to use a sports metaphor, but I will. This is drawn
    basically from an example from Claude Steele, where he says, he starts
    by using free throws as a way of actually determining, who
    should-you've got to field a basketball team, and you clearly want the
    people who make ten out of ten, and you say, "Well, I may not want the
    people who make zero out of ten," but what about the people who make
    four out of ten. If you use that as the measure, Shaq will be left on
    the sidelines.

    LHS: I understand. I think you're obviously right that there's no
    absolute objectivity, and you're-there's no question about that. My
    own instincts actually are that you could go wrong in a number of
    respects fetishizing objectivity for exactly the reasons that you
    suggest. There is a very simple and straightforward methodology that
    was used many years ago in the case of baseball. Somebody wrote a very
    powerful article about baseball, probably in the seventies, in which
    they basically said, "Look, it is true that if you look at people's
    salaries, and you control for their batting averages and their
    fielding averages and whatnot, whites and blacks are in the same
    salary once you control. It is also true that there are no black .240
    hitters in the major leagues, that the only blacks who are in the
    major leagues are people who bat over .300-I'm exaggerating-and that
    is exactly what you'd predict on a model of discrimination, that
    because there's a natural bias against. And there's an absolute and
    clear prediction. The prediction is that if there's a
    discriminated-against group, that if you measure subsequent
    performance, their subsequent performance will be stronger than that
    of the non-discriminated-against group. And that's a simple prediction
    of a theory of discrimination. And it's a testable prediction of a
    theory of discrimination, and it would be a revolution, and it would
    be an enormously powerful finding in this field, to demonstrate, and I
    suspect there are contexts in which that can be demonstrated, but
    there's a straightforward methodology, it seems to me, for testing
    exactly that idea. I'm going to run out of time. But, let me take-if
    people ask very short questions, I will give very short answers.

    Q: What about the rest of the world. Are we keeping up? Physics,
    France, very high powered women in science in top positions. Same
    nature, same hormones, same ambitions we have to assume. Different
    cultural, given.

    LHS: Good question. Good question. I don't know much about it. My
    guess is that you'll find that in most of those places, the pressure
    to be high powered, to work eighty hours a week, is not the same as it
    is in the United States. And therefore it is easier to balance on both
    sides. But I thought about that, and I think that you'll find that's
    probably at least part of the explanation.

    Q: [unintelligible] because his book was referred to.

    LHS: Right.

    Q: I would like to make an on observation and then make a suggestion.
    The observation is that of the three. There is a contradiction in your
    three major observations that is the high-powered intensive need of
    scientific work-that's the first-and then the ability, and then the
    socialization, the social process. Would it be possible the first two
    result from the last one and that math ability could be a result of
    education, parenting, a lot of things. We only observe what happens,
    we don't know the reason for why there's a variance. I'll give you
    another thing, a suggestion. The suggestion is that one way to read
    your remarks is to say maybe those are not the things we can solve
    immediately. Especially as leaders of higher education because they
    are just so wide, so deep, and involves all aspects of society,
    institution, education, a lot of things, parenting, marriages are
    institutions, for example. We could have changed the institution of
    those things a lot of things we cannot change. Rather, it's not nature
    and nurture, it is really pre-college versus post-college. From your
    college point of view maybe those are things too late and too little
    you can do but a lot of things which are determined by sources outside
    the college you're in. Is that...

    LHS: I think...

    Q: That's a different read on your set of remarks.

    LHS: I think your observation goes much more to my second point about
    the abilities and the variances than it does to the first point about
    what married woman....

    Q: [unintelligible]

    LHS: Yeah, look anything could be social, ultimately in all of that. I
    think that if you look at the literature on behavioral genetics and
    you look at the impact, the changed view as to what difference
    parenting makes, the evidence is really quite striking and amazing. I
    mean, just read Judith Rich Harris's book. It is just very striking
    that people's-and her book is probably wrong and its probably more
    than she says it is, and I know there are thirteen critiques and you
    can argue about it and I am not certainly a leading expert on that-but
    there is a lot there. And I think what it surely establishes is that
    human intuition tends to substantially overestimate the role-just like
    teachers overestimate their impact on their students relative to
    fellow students on other students-I think we all have a tendency with
    our intuitions to do it. So, you may be right, but my guess is that
    there are some very deep forces here that are going to be with us for
    a long time.

    Q: You know, in the spirit of speaking truth to power, I'm not an
    expert in this area but a lot of people in the room are, and they've
    written a lot of papers in here that address ....

    LHS: I've read a lot of them.

    Q: And, you know, a lot of us would disagree with your hypotheses and
    your premises...

    LHS: Fair enough.

    Q: So it's not so clear.

    LHS: It's not clear at all. I think I said it wasn't clear. I was
    giving you my best guess but I hope we could argue on the basis of as
    much evidence as we can marshal.

    Q: It's here.

    LHS: No, no, no. Let me say. I have actually read that and I'm not
    saying there aren't rooms to debate this in, but if somebody, but with
    the greatest respect-I think there's an enormous amount one can learn
    from the papers in this conference and from those two books-but if
    somebody thinks that there is proof in these two books, that these
    phenomenon are caused by something else, I guess I would very
    respectfully have to disagree very very strongly with that. I don't
    presume to have proved any view that I expressed here, but if you
    think there is proof for an alternative theory, I'd want you to be
    hesitant about that.

    Q: Just one quick question in terms of the data. We saw this morning
    lots of data showing the drop in white males entering science and
    engineering, and I'm having trouble squaring that with your model of
    who wants to work eighty hours a week. It's mostly people coming from
    other countries that have filled that gap in terms of men versus

    LHS: I think there are two different things, frankly, actually, is my
    guess-I'm not an expert. Somebody reported to me that-someone who is
    knowledgeable-said that it is surprisingly hard to get Americans
    rather than immigrants or the children of immigrants to be cardiac
    surgeons. Cardiac surgeon is about prestigious, certain kind of
    prestige as you can be, fact is that people want control of their
    lifestyles, people want flexibility, they don't want to do it, and
    it's disproportionately immigrants that want to do some of the careers
    that are most demanding in terms of time and most interfering with
    your lifestyle. So I think that's exactly right and I think it's
    precisely the package of number of hours' work what it is, that's
    leading more Americans to choose to have careers of one kind or
    another in business that are less demanding of passionate thought all
    the time and that includes white males as well.

    Q: That's my point, that social-psychological in nature

    LHS: I would actually much rather stay-yes, and then I'm on my way

    Q: I have no idea how you would evaluate the productivity of the
    marginal hire if this person is coming into an environment where
    [unintelligible] is marginal and there's [unintelligible].

    LHS: You're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. I used the
    term-I realized I had not spoken carefully-I used the term marginal in
    the economic sense to mean, only additional, to only mean...

    Q: [unintelligible].

    LHS: No, to mean only the additional [unintelligible]. Yeah, obviously
    [unintelligible] going to identify X is the additional hire, is the
    marginal hire, the question you can ask is, you know, here is a time
    when, as a consequence of an effort, there was a very substantial
    increase in the number of people who were hired in a given group, what
    was the observed ex post quality? And what was the observed ex post
    performance? It's hard to believe that that's not a useful thing to
    try to know. It may well be that one will produce powerful evidence
    that the people are much better than the people who were there and
    that the institutions went up in quality and that made things much
    better. All I'm saying is one needs to ask the question. And as for
    the groping in the kitchen, and whatnot, look, it's absolutely
    important that in every university in America there be norms of
    civility and proper treatment of colleagues that be absolutely
    established and that that be true universally, and that's a hugely
    important part of this, and that's why at Harvard we're doing a whole
    set of things that are making junior faculty positions much more real
    faculty positions with real mentoring, real feedback, serious searches
    before the people are hired, and much greater prospects for tenure
    than there ever have been before because exactly that kind of
    collegiality is absolutely central to the academic enterprise.

    Thank you.

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