Uh-oh–Harvard president Lawrence Summers has had to serve a stint in feminista reeducation camp for his remark that innate differences between men and women might have something to do with why there aren’t as many top women scientists as men. (See The Other Charlotte’s Feminists Put Harvard Prez in Hot Seat, Jan. 18.) Summers has now issued an apology (read it in this PDF file) for not having “weighed…more carefully” his statements at an economics conference in Cambridge, Mass., Harvard’s home town.
Never mind that scientific research has all but conclusively proved that the brains of men and women are differently structured, and that men as a whole are more proficient than women at tackling the spatial geometry that underlies math and science. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be top-flight female physicists and engineers, only that there are likely to be fewer of them. But what’s biology when you’ve got ideology? Summers’s letter was worthy of Winston Smith: “I have learned a great deal from what I have heard in the last few days,” he wrote pleadingly.
The reactions of the feminista ideologues to Summers’s remarks at the conference was so, uh, female. Here’s a report from the Washington Post:
“‘I felt I was going to be sick,’ said Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who listened to part of Summers’s speech Friday at a session on the progress of women in academia organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. She walked out in what she described as a physical sense of disgust.
“‘My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow,’ she said. ‘I was extremely upset.'”
Ah, an attack of the vapors.
Summers had committed the sin of citing research indicating that girls are less likely than boys to achieve top scores on standardized math and science tests, even though the median scores of both sexes are nearly identical. You just can’t say that kind of thing these days. He also mentioned that, in an experiment in gender-neutral parenting, he had given his daughter two trucks to play with and that she had started calling one of them the “daddy truck” and the other the “baby truck.”
Said Hopkins (she of the pounding heart) to the Post: “That’s the kind of insidious, destructive, un-thought-through attitude that causes a lot of harm.”
So now, after his re-education session, poor Summers is saying that the truck comment was “a misguided attempt to provide some humor.” Those rubber hoses must have hurt.