Female IQ and Political Correctness

This news story shows how sensitive is the matter of female IQ. Research indicates that there are slightly more males at the very top and bottom of IQ scales. Men tend to score higher in the hard sciences (particularly in spatial thinking), while women are better in topics involved in interpersonal relations. Long term, one could expect from IQ scores to see a continuation of extra males in the sciences, while women increase their numbers in areas like law and politics. But because IQ is only one of many components in success, the gender percentages in the workplace will likely get more even in all careers.

Summers' remarks on women draw fire

Excerpts from Marcella Bombardieri, Boston Globe Staff - January 17, 2005


CAMBRIDGE -- The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

He offered three possible explanations, in declining order of importance, for the small number of women in high-level positions in science and engineering.

The first was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks.

The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. ''I said no one really understands why this is, and it's an area of ferment in social science," Summers said in an interview Saturday. ''Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren't" due to socialization after all.

This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same ''innate ability" or ''natural ability" as men in some fields. Asked about this, Summers said, ''It's possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That's what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied. Summers said cutting-edge research has shown that genetics are more important than previously thought, compared with environment or upbringing. As an example, he mentioned autism, once believed to be a result of parenting but now widely seen to have a genetic basis.

Summers' third point was about discrimination. Referencing a well-known concept in economics, he said that if discrimination was the main factor limiting the advancement of women in science and engineering, then a school that does not discriminate would gain an advantage by hiring away the top women who were discriminated against elsewhere.

Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was sitting only 10 feet from Summers. During his comments on ability she closed her computer, put on her coat, and walked out. ''It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young women [at Harvard] are being led by a man who views them this way," she said later in an interview. Hopkins doesn't argue that there can't be any differences between the abilities of men and women, but she said there is vast evidence that social factors do affect women's performance. The five other women who were offended by Summers' speech also argued that their objections were based on research that indicates women do perform at the highest levels when given the same opportunities and encouragement as men.

Reaction to this event a few days later by a female Harvard professor (Ruth Wisse), in a letter to the Wall Street Journal (21 Jan 05 page A8): "This accusation of bias (by Hopkins and others), advanced by feminists and often accepted at face value by the academic community, attempts to transform guarantees of equal opportunity into a demand for equal outcome....It is not President Summers who owes women an apology; it is the complainers and agitators who owe both him and us an apology for trying to shut down discussion of an "inequality" that is not likely to disappear."

Sloan's comment: Professor Wisse's thoughts could also apply to most Affirmative Action programs, because equality of outcome is an unrealistic expectation. Human beings differ in their talents and potential - for groups as well as for individuals.

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