[Paleopsych] The Chronicle: Daily news: 01/19/2005 -- 03 (fwd)

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    [44]The Chronicle of Higher Education
    Today's News

                                               Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Female Professors Assail Remarks by Harvard's President, Who Says It's All a

    [45]By PIPER FOGG


                                                 [46]Easy-to-print version
                                                 [47]E-mail this article


    [49]NIH reportedly is weakening its plan for free access to journal

    [50]Senators support nominee for health secretary; stem-cell research
    does not come up in initial hearing

    [51]Female professors assail remarks by Harvard's president, who says
    it's all a misunderstanding

    [52]New database of graduation rates could help colleges learn from
    better-performing peers

    [53]Louisiana College picks new president whom most faculty members

    [54]Former professor sues Wisconsin college, saying he was fired for
    refusing to inflate grades

    [55]ACT Inc. starts for-profit subsidiary to enter testing market for
    international students

    Harvard University's president, Lawrence H. Summers, has come under
    fire by some scholars for suggesting that one reason fewer women make
    it to the top in mathematics and science may be the result of innate
    differences from men.

    Some prominent female scholars have called his remarks offensive,
    while other academics say his comments synthesized some current
    research on gender differences. Mr. Summers said his views, delivered
    on Friday at an economics conference in Cambridge, Mass., have been

    Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute
    of Technology who led at 1999 panel on the status of women there,
    walked out in disgust in the middle of Mr. Summers's speech, she said.
    News of the incident was first reported on Monday in The Boston Globe.

    About 50 people attended the conference, sponsored by the National
    Bureau of Economic Research and titled "Diversifying the Science and
    Engineering Workforce: Women, Underrepresented Minorities, and Their
    S&E Careers," at which Mr. Summers gave a luncheon talk. While no
    transcript of his remarks exists, conference attendees say he
    discussed several possible hypotheses for why fewer women than men are
    in the top ranks in science and math at elite universities.

    He discussed the theory that women with children are reluctant to work
    the 80-hour weeks that are required to succeed in those fields.
    Conference attendees said Mr. Summers then discussed the possibility
    that men and women may have different innate abilities that were
    previously attributed to socialization.

    When Ms. Hopkins heard that, she said, "I was profoundly upset."

    "That kind of discrimination holds people back," she said.

    But Mr. Summers, an economist who served as treasury secretary in the
    Clinton administration, said in an interview on Tuesday that people
    have misinterpreted his remarks as suggesting that women cannot do

    "Nothing I said or believe provides any basis for either stereotyping
    women or for fatalism about our ability to draw more women into
    scientific careers," he said.

    He added that he did intend to challenge an audience of social
    scientists to understand the many factors that have led to the
    underrepresentation of women in science and engineering, and he noted
    that more study is needed on the issue.

    Not everyone was offended by Mr. Summers's speech. Paula E. Stephen, a
    professor of economics at the University of Georgia, said that Mr.
    Summers had organized a set of comments on current research findings
    on the topic and also put forth potential remedies, including
    providing professors with more child-care services.

    One reason some reactions to Mr. Summers's comments were so vehement
    may have been a suspicion that he is insufficiently committed to women
    in academe. Last fall, 26 female professors at Harvard complained that
    the number of tenured women there had declined during his presidency.
    He has said that he is committed to the advancement of women.

    Background articles from The Chronicle:
      * [56]Where the Elite Teach, It's Still a Man's World (12/3/2004)
      * [57]Female Professors Say Harvard Is Not Granting Tenure to Enough
        Women (10/1/2004)
      * [58]How Babies Alter Careers for Academics (12/5/2003)

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