Some people take great pride in the belief that our country has made substantial improvements, in granting access to women and minorities, in the fields of science and engineering. We usually get a stark reminder in the form of an inappropriate comment or some weird revelation from an educational institution.
Recently, the former occured on the campus of Harvard University. Unfortunately, it serves as a clear reminder that we still have a long way to go. Achieving true equity for women and minorities in technical fields will take many generations. Today I had the occasion to read another indictment on the often under-represented group. The culprit was none other than Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard U. president.
The author of the article,
Larry's Taste complained about some the statements that Larry made during an equity symposium. After reading the aforementioned article, I believe the author focused on the wrong aspects of the talk. No doubt, there is much to dispute in Summers's talk, but instead it would have been better to challenge Summers to go out and hire the appropriate research team to validate his claims. Essentially, bring in the research team to find answers to his own questions. The transcript is rife with supposition and incongruent analogies. For instance, Summers wishes to have someone 'marshal' evidence to refute the idea that women generally opt to raise families and would rather not labor through an eighty-hour work week. He also challenged the audience to go out and measure the long-term success of marginal the candidates who were admitted under a quota preference. Although the talk is quite lengthy, it's really a worthwhile read.
Unfortunately, the talk smells very much like the infamous
Bell Curve text, co-authored by Charles Murray. Ironically, he too was a Harvard graduate. I only read half of this book, which was written nearly a decade ago. I was nauseated half-way through the text, hopefully you can stomach Summers dialogue.