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Old 01-17-2005, 02:54 PM   #1
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"daddy truck" and "baby truck,"

Women Lack 'Natural Ability' In Some Fields, Harvard President Says
Comments Came At Economic Conference

UPDATED: 4:19 pm EST January 17, 2005

CAMBRIDGE, Mass -- The president of Harvard University prompted criticism for suggesting that innate differences between the sexes could help explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

Lawrence H. Summers, speaking Friday at an economic conference, also questioned how great a role discrimination plays in keeping female scientists and engineers from advancing at elite universities.

The remarks prompted Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist Nancy Hopkins - a Harvard graduate - to walk out on Summers' talk, The Boston Globe reported.

"It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young women (at Harvard) are being led by a man who views them this way," Hopkins said later.

Five other participants in the National Bureau of Economic Research conference, including Denice D. Denton, chancellor designate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, also said they were offended by the comments. Four other attendees contacted afterward by the Globe said they were not.

Summers told the Globe he was discussing hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own views. He also said more research needs to be done on the issues.

Conference organizers said Summers was asked to be provocative, and that he was invited as a top economist, not as a Harvard official.


The two-day, invitation-only conference of the Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research drew about 50 economists from around the country to discuss women and minorities in science and engineering.

Summers declined to provide a tape or transcript of his remarks, but he did describe comments to the Globe similar to what participants recalled.

"It's possible I made some reference to innate differences," he said. He said people "would prefer to believe" that the differences in performance between the sexes are due to social factors, "but these are things that need to be studied."

He also cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls.

It was during such comments that Hopkins got up and left.

"Here was this economist lecturing pompously (to) this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day," said Denton, the outgoing dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington.

Summers already faced criticism because the number of senior job offers to women has dropped each year of his three-year presidency.

He has promised to work on the problem.
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Old 01-17-2005, 03:00 PM   #2
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I read that in the paper today



I think some of those people spend too much time in Cambridge contemplating their navels or something

It's not at all surprising to me to see that way of thinking at Harvard
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Old 01-17-2005, 04:25 PM   #3
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The lack of response to this post either means people agree with Summers and are reticent to voice their agreement or are totally aghast that someone in Summers' prestigious position could be so remarkably backwards.

I am of the second opinion.
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Old 01-17-2005, 04:38 PM   #4
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Even if women do "Daddy Truck, Baby Truck" objects, what bearing does that have on womens abilities to comprehend science and engineering?

*deleted bit was here*

PS At the University that is my workplace there is a WISE (Women In Engineering and Science) programme.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:06 PM   #5
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only us women are posting
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:29 PM   #6
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ah but our place is in the home.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:34 PM   #7
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I can't remember the statistics, but the class I had to take for teaching Middle School students showed some studies that at least the middle school level, boys generally performed much better in science and math than girls. On the other hand, girls generally performed much better in reading comprehension and language skills.

Would there be an outcry if a female would have given a speech saying that women are naturaly better at verbal communication and language than men? I highly doubt it.

I think the most important thing here is to realize that there are these gender gaps, to study them and to ultimately try to find a way to close the gender gaps.

I think the biggest problem this guy made is that he wasn't quite as diplomatic in his speech as he probably should have been.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:39 PM   #8
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ah but our place is in the home.
Not anymore it's not. We have this to deal with in the career world and even if we decide it best to stay home - we're treated like we're at a day spa all of the time and have nothing important to do.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:42 PM   #9
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i can't wait till i start my career. but unfortunately i have to wait.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:44 PM   #10
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I admire all woman that can give their careers their all and give their kids their all.
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:47 PM   #11
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I admire all woman that can give their careers their all and give their kids their all.
Me too
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:49 PM   #12
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that's tough stuff. i can't even imagine all the work involved with that.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:58 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Jamila
The lack of response to this post either means people agree with Summers and are reticent to voice their agreement or are totally aghast that someone in Summers' prestigious position could be so remarkably backwards.

I am of the second opinion.
Sometimes it's just not worth my while to even comment on someone who's head is shoved that far up his own arse.
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:04 AM   #14
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you have a point, indra.

but people will generally assume that no response to such an obviously provocative performance as that of Mr. Summers' means consensus with his viewpoint.

that's why it's so important to stand up and be counted, even if it takes only a moment.

and it speaks volumes for me that the posters in this thread appear to be all women - where do the men of FYM stand?

again, their silence leaves me with only one assumption - it would be nice for one of them to counter that assumption.
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:24 AM   #15
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Originally posted by Jamila
The lack of response to this post either means people agree with Summers and are reticent to voice their agreement or are totally aghast that someone in Summers' prestigious position could be so remarkably backwards.

I am of the second opinion.
Why put words in others mouths?
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