Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, suggested last week that "innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers." NY Times.
Dr. Summers cited research showing that more high school boys than girls tend to score at very high and very low levels on standardized math tests, and that it was important to consider the possibility that such differences may stem from biological differences between the sexes.
How do I feel about being a member of the sex that's not as good at math? Not happy about it. But this wouldn't be my reaction:
Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who once led an investigation of sex discrimination there that led to changes in hiring and promotion, walked out midway through Dr. Summers's remarks.
"When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Dr. Hopkins said.
I don't see how getting "physically ill" makes us women look any better. Nancy is just reinforcing negative gender stereotypes that women are too emotional.
If there are innate biological differences in math aptitude, then it's wrong to suppress the truth, otherwise we'd just be whining until the end of days about sexual discrimination causing these difference where such discrimation actually doesn't exist.
Luckily for American women, math intensive work like engineering is of declining importance to our economy because such work can be exported to low wage countries like China and India.