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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Larry Summers!

Okay, I'm not going to go through the entire litany of reasons why what Larry "Flav-a-flav" Summers said was probably okay and why his getting carjacked by NOW is probably uncalled for. What I am curious about is, even if there's some genetic difference between men and women that makes the latter horribly bad at math, so what?

I mean, in the case of political representation or other forms of power (I would argue that having a crossection of women in positions of hiring and so on is just as important as having them in more traditional political office), it seems like there's some normative end that would override the disutility of having marginally worse leaders or businesspeople. If it were shown that women can't even lead a marching band, the check of having them in power and guaranteeing the interests of a certain segment of the population are heard, outweighs the incrimental utility disparity.

But math? What the hell? Who wants to be a mathematician? You have no influence at all, you're not really respected very much, you don't get paid a terribly large amount... what gives? Let's say that the top 10% of mathematicians are all male. Is society worse off than if half of them were female? Is it just that math is seen as "intellectual" and as a consequence, is a proxy for all forms of academia with reference to the feministas?

Another slight issue: stereotypes about women and their aptitude in science and math exist. They are incaulkated to a stunning degree. If it is the case that what Larry "Nike Mouth" Summers said is totally untrue, he's not really perpetuating a stereotype. It's unlikely that his comments have pushed the extant perceptions any farther towards the more conservative. If anything, the resultant backlash has caused people who formerly held the view that girls can't add to question this latent assumption. Oddly, that whole "discourse" thing that is induced when bad ideas enter the marketplace has practical implications!

cranked out at 1:44 AM | |

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