[Paleopsych] NYT: Harvard President Apologizes Again for Remarks on Gender

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Thu Jan 20 21:09:37 UTC 2005

Harvard President Apologizes Again for Remarks on Gender
NYT January 20, 2005

With the unabated furor over his recent remarks suggesting
that women may not have the same innate abilities in math
and science as men, Harvard's president, Lawrence H.
Summers, issued a two-page apology to the Harvard community
late last night.

"I was wrong to have spoken in a way that has resulted in
an unintended signal of discouragement to talented girls
and women," Mr. Summers said in a letter that was posted on
his Harvard Web site.

"Despite reports to the contrary, I did not say, and I do
not believe, that girls are intellectually less able than
boys, or that women lack the ability to succeed at the
highest levels of science," Mr. Summers wrote.

It was his third public statement in three days about his
remarks at a conference on women and minorities in science
and engineering last Friday, with each statement becoming
stronger and more apologetic. His remarks have dominated
the discussion on the Harvard campus and beyond, with
female academics, alumni and donors expressing concern over
his leadership.

Mr. Summers, an economist and a former treasury secretary,
acknowledged that he had been hearing plenty of reaction
himself. "I have learned a great deal from all that I have
heard in the last few days," he wrote in his statement.
"The many compelling e-mails and calls that I have received
have made vivid the very real barriers faced by women in
pursuing scientific and other academic careers."

He wrote in the letter that he had attended the conference,
held by the National Bureau of Economics, "with the
intention of reinforcing my strong commitment to the
advancement of women in science, and offering some informal
observations on possibly fruitful avenues for further

However, he added: "Ensuing media reports on my remarks
appear to have had quite the opposite effect. I deeply
regret the impact of my comments and apologize for not
having weighed them more carefully."

Mr. Summers emphasized earlier this week that he had been
deliberately provocative in his statements at the

Cynthia Friend, the chairwoman of Harvard's department of
chemistry and chemical biology, called Mr. Summers's
apology "important" and "welcome."

But Professor Friend, who was for about 20 years the only
woman in her department at Harvard, said that the apology
did not erase Mr. Summers's remarks at the conference. "The
problem is you can't take it back," she said.

Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, was at the conference and was so
upset by Mr. Summers's remarks that she walked out. "I
applaud what he is saying now," she said last night,
responding to Mr. Summers's letter. "But I still remain
deeply concerned that someone could say the things he said
last Friday."



Statement from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology/Institute 
for Women and Technology, http://anitaborg.org. I don't have the exact 

    Last Friday, Dr. Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University and
    an economist, spoke before a meeting of the National Bureau of
    Economic Research, about the causes for women's under-representation
    in science. He suggested that, since fewer girls than boys have top
    scores on science and math tests in late high school, perhaps genetic,
    rather than social, differences explain why so few women are
    successful in these fields.

    We would like to respond:

    Well-accepted, path-breaking research on learning (see, for example,
    Bransford, et al., How People Learn, and Claude Steele's work on
    "stereotype threat"), shows that expectations heavily influence
    performance, particularly on tests.  If society, institutions,
    teachers, and leaders like President Summers, expect (overtly or
    subconsciously) that girls and women will not perform as well as boys
    and men, there is a good chance many will not perform as well.  At the
    same time, there is little evidence that those scoring at the very top
    of the range in standardized tests, are likely to have more successful
    careers in the sciences. Too many other factors are involved.
    Finally, well-documented evidence demonstrates women's efforts and
    achievements are not valued, recognized and rewarded to the same
    extent as those of their male counterparts (see, for example, Virginia
    Valian's work on gender schema).
    As leaders in science, engineering, and education, we are concerned
    with the suggestion that the status quo for women in science and
    engineering may be natural, inevitable, and unrelated to social
    factors.  Counter-examples to this suggestion are drawn quickly from
    the fields of law, and of medical science. In 1970, women represented
    just 5% of law students and 8% of medical school students. These low
    percentages have increased substantially in response to social changes
    and concerted institutional and individual effort. Obviously, the low
    rates of participation in 1970 were indicative of social, and not
    genetic, barriers to success.
    We must continue to address the multitude of small and subtle ways in
    which people of all kinds are discouraged from pursuing interest in
    scientific and technical fields.  Society benefits most when we take
    full advantage of the scientific and technical talent among us. It is
    time to create a broader awareness of those proven and effective
    means, including institutional policies and practices, which enable
    women and other underrepresented groups to step beyond the historical
    barriers in science and engineering.

    Carol B. Muller, President and CEO, MentorNet and Consulting Associate
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

    Sally M. Ride, Joseph and Ingrid Hibbens Professor of Space Science,
    University of California, San Diego

    Janie Fouke, Professor and Dean, College of Engineering, Michigan
    State University

    Telle Whitney, President, Anita Borg Institute for Women and

    Denice D. Denton, Dean of Engineering, University of Washington, and
    University of California, Santa Cruz Chancellor Designate

    Nancy Cantor, Chancellor, Syracuse University

    Donna J. Nelson, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University
    of Oklahoma

    Jim Plummer, Dean of Engineering, Stanford University

    Ilene Busch-Vishniac, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and former
    Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University

    Carolyn Meyers, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
    North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

    Sue V. Rosser, Dean, Ivan Allen College, Georgia Institute of

    Londa Schiebinger, Professor of History of Science and Barbara D.
    Finberg Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender,
    Stanford University

    Eric Roberts, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University

    David Burgess, Professor of Biology, Boston College and past
    president, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native American
    in Science

    Craig Beeson, Associate Professor, Medical University of South

    Susan Staffin Metz, Senior Advisor, Center for Innovation in
    Engineering and Science Education, Stevens Institute of Technology

    Lucinda Sanders, CEO, National Center for Women & Information

    Bevlee A. Watford, President, WEPAN - the Women in Engineering
    Programs and Advocates Network

    Elizabeth S. Ivey, President, Association for Women in Science

    Mary Frank Fox, NSF ADVANCE Professor, Co-director, Center for Study
    of Women, Science, & Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Sheldon Wettack, Professor of Chemistry and former Dean of Faculty,
    Harvey Mudd College

    Maria Klawe, Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Princeton

    William A. Wulf, President, National Academy of Engineering

    Joan Girgus, Professor of Psychology and Special Assistant to the Dean
    of the Faculty, Princeton University

    Phoebe S. Leboy, Professor of Biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania

    Eleanor L. Babco, Executive Director, Commission on Professionals in
    Science and Technology

    Betty Shanahan, Executive Director & CEO, Society of Women Engineers

    Catherine Didion, Director, International Network for Women Engineers
    and Scientists (INWES)

    Daryl E. Chubin, Director, AAAS Center for Advancing Science &
    Engineering Capacity

    Monique Frize, President, INWES (International Network for Women
    Engineers and Scientists)

    Susan L. Ganter, Executive Director, Association for Women in Science
    and Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Clemson University

    E. Ann Nalley, Professor of Chemistry, Cameron University and
    President Elect, American Chemical Society

    Judy Franz, Executive Officer, American Physical Society

    Héctor D. Abruña, Emile M. Chamot Professor and Chair, Department of
    Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Baker Laboratory, Cornell University

    Myra H. Strober, Professor of Education and Business (by courtesy),
    Stanford University

    Jane Zimmer Daniels, Co-Founder & Founding President WEPAN (Women in
    Engineering Programs & Advocates Network)

    Emily A. Carter, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and
    Applied and Computational Mathematics, Associated Faculty in PICSciE,
    Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and PRISM. Princeton University

    Jean H. Rhodes, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of
    Massachusetts, Boston

    Iris Schrijver, Director, Molecular Pathology Laboratory, Director,
    Molecular Genetic Pathology Fellowship Program, Medical Director,
    Stanford POCT, Assistant Professor of Pathology and (by courtesy)
    Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine

    Virginia A. Zakian, Harry C. Wiess Professor in the Life Sciences,
    Department of Molecular Biology, Lewis Thomas Labs, Princeton

    Barbara Simons, Former President, Association for Computing Machinery

    Ursula Martin, Professor and Director of [16]women at CL project,
    University of Cambridge

    Jo Boaler, Associate Professor, Mathematics Education, Stanford

    Katherine Rose Jolluck, Professor of History, Stanford University

    Purnima Mankekar, Associate Professor of Cultural and Social
    Anthropology, Stanford University

    Robert M. Gray, Lucent Technologies Professor of Engineering and Vice
    Chair, Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

    Margaret W. Conkey, Class of 1960 Professor of Anthropology, Director,
    Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley
    and President, Archaeology Division, American Anthropological

    Peter Stansky, Frances and Charles Field Professor of History
    Emeritus, Stanford University

    Aihua Xie, Professor of Physics, Oklahoma State University and Chair,
    the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics

    Pino Martin, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering,
    Princeton University

    Linda P.B. Katehi, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, Purdue

    Jo Anne Miller, Chair, MentorNet Board of Directors, CEO, RNM
    Engineering and Principal, Nokia Innovent

    Amelia Tess Thornton, CEO, The Thornton Group

    Andrea LaPaugh, Professor of Computer Science, Princeton University

    Deborah L. Rhode, Professor of Law, Director of the Center on Ethics,
    Stanford University

    Barbara C. Gelpi, Professor of English, Emerita, Stanford University

    Mary Jean Harrold, NSF ADVANCE Professor of Computing, Georgia
    Institute of Technology

    Cherrill M. Spencer, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and
    Vice-President, Math/Science Network

    Carla Schlatter Ellis, Professor of Computer Science, Duke University

    Iris Schrijver, Pathology Department, Stanford University

    Susan Lord, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, University
    of San Diego

    Helen Quinn, Past President, American Physical Society

    Margaret Murnane, Professor of Physics, JILA, University of Colorado
    at Boulder

    Patricia P. Jones, Professor Vice Provost for Faculty, Professor of
    Biological Sciences, Stanford University

    Frances Hellman, Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley

    Gail Wight, Assistant Professor of Media Art, Stanford University

    Ruth O'Hara, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and
    Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine

    Mary Pickering, Professor of History, San Jose State University

    Sheri Sheppard, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Stanford

    David Leith, Professor and Emeritus Director of Research, Stanford
    Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

    Adina Paytan, Assistant Professor of Geological and Environmental
    Sciences, Stanford University

    Matthew H. Sommer, Professor of History, Stanford University

    Audrey Shafer, Associate Professor, Anesthesia, Stanford University
    School of Medicine

    David Grusky, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

    Sherry Yennello, Professor and Associate Dean, Texas A&M University

    Ashima Madan, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University
    Medical Center

    Denise L. Johnson, Associate Professor of Surgery , Advising Dean,
    Stanford University Medical School

    Sylvia Yanagisako, Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology,
    Stanford University

    Jennifer M. Chou-Green, Academic Career E-mentoring Project Director,

    Sandra Robinson, Region 5 Women in Engineering Coordinator, IEEE

    Robin Jeffries, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

    Indira Nair , Vice Provost of Education, Carnegie Mellon University ;
    Professor, Engineering and Public Policy

    (Affiliations are for identification purposes only.)

More information about the paleopsych mailing list