LARRY SUMMERS REVISITED YET AGAIN….Are men innately better at top-level math and science than women? Who better to write on the subject than a top-level female scientist (Barbara Barres) who is now a top-level male scientist (Ben Barres)? It’ll cost you $18 to read Ben’s essay in the current issue of Nature, but the Wall Street Journal summarizes it for us for free:
The top science and math student in her New Jersey high school, she was advised by her guidance counselor to go to a local college rather than apply to MIT. She applied anyway and was admitted.
As an MIT undergraduate, Barbara was one of the only women in a large math class, and the only student to solve a particularly tough problem. The professor “told me my boyfriend must have solved it for me,” recalls Prof. Barres, 51 years old, in an interview. “If boys were raised to feel that they can’t be good at mathematics, there would be very few who were.”
….There is little evidence that lack of testosterone or anything unique to male biology is the main factor keeping women from the top ranks of science and math, says Prof. Barres, a view that is widely held among scientists who study the issue. Although more men than women in the U.S. score in the stratosphere on math tests, there is no such difference in Japan, and in Iceland the situation is flipped, with more women than men scoring at the very top.
And here’s your quote of the day: “People who do not know I am transgendered treat me with much more respect,” Barres says. “I can even complete a whole sentence without being interrupted by a man.”
And another one from Joan Roughgarden, who until 1998 was Jonathan Roughgarden: “Jonathan Roughgarden’s colleagues and rivals took his intelligence for granted, Joan says. But Joan has had ‘to establish competence to an extent that men never have to. They’re assumed to be competent until proven otherwise, whereas a woman is assumed to be incompetent until she proves otherwise.’”
And yet another from Gregory Petsko: “Almost without exception, the talented women I have known have believed they had less ability than they actually had. And almost without exception, the talented men I have known believed they had more.”
Take your pick.