When Professor of MIT Nancy Hopkins heard remarks of Lawrence Summers about difference in aptitude for science in men and women, she had to leave the room because she felt "physically ill".
The Harvard faculty of arts and science just last week passed a motion expressing a lack of confidence in the leadership of President Lawrence Summers. Such censure is unprecedented in Harvard's near 400-year-history. Summers unwittingly stepped on the third rail of university politics when he speculated that innate differences between the sexes might be one reason there are fewer women than men at the highest echelons of math and science. To understand the hornets' nest Summers has stirred up, one needs to have a close look at the main hornets.[link]
To an outsider, the controversy must look very strange. Nothing Summers said was a threat to the advancement of a single competent woman in any of the sciences. The statistical fact that more men tend to score in the top-five percent of math-aptitude tests makes no predictions whatsoever about the abilities of any particular man or woman. Far from being outrageous or sexist, Summers's comments were completely respectable and altogether mainstream. [link]
The press has widely reported on the overreaction Nancy Hopkins, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist and feminist activist who says she almost became physically ill. What many press stories fail to mention is that this is not the first time Professor Hopkins had been offended by perceived sexism.[link]
In the late 1990s, she accused MIT of bias against herself and several of her female colleagues. Instead of bringing in objective outsiders to evaluate her complaints, MIT put Hopkins herself in charge of investigating her own charges. She spearheaded a gender-bias study that concluded — surprise, surprise — that there was insidious bias against women at MIT. The study proved to be a travesty. It was altogether unscientific. Hopkins and her co-investigators did not produce any hard data. Most of the "evidence" came in the form of anecdotes about hurt feelings and perceptions of invisibility and discomfort. One critic aptly described the study as part of the dubious legacy of postmodernism: "evidence-free, feelings-based research." [link]
Of course, offending feminist professors was not Summers's only crime. He is outspoken, direct, and does not suffer fools gladly. Not only did he violate the holy dogma of social constructionism, he regularly violates a sacred commandment of modern education: Thou shalt be sensitive, nurturing, and protective of everyone's self-esteem. Such "virtues" now count for more in an academic leader than integrity, intellectual vision, or a commitment to free inquiry and free expression. If Summers goes down at Harvard, it will seriously damage the standards and traditions of American higher education.[link]
posted by: jrtelegraph