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Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in Science Ben A. Barres (Prodded on by Larry Summers, Steven Pinker, and Harvey Mansfield)


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Title: Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in Science Ben A. Barres (Prodded on by Larry Summers, Steven Pinker, and Harvey Mansfield)

Some Reflections on the Dearth of Women in
ScienceBen A. Barres(Prodded on by Larry
Summers, Steven Pinker, and Harvey Mansfield)
Talk Outline
  • The problem
  • A little about me
  • My commentary
  • Steve Pinkers hypothesis that men and women
  • have evolved innately different cognitive
  • accounting for the dearth of women in
  • 5. Harvey Mansfield and Manliness
  • The great harm done by stereotypes
  • Why enhancing diversity is important
  • Some thoughts on what can be done

  • My e-mail address is
  • My talk is being videotaped and will be
  • posted on the Harvard Faculty and
  • Development and Diversity web site
  • http//
  • and the Harvard Womens Center web site.
  • http//
  • 3. My slides are available to anyone who wants
    them, as is my commentary.

Percentage of Science and Engineering PhDs
Awarded to Women

The Question Why So Few Women in Science and
Discipline Assistant Associate
Full All Professor () Professor
() Professor () Ranks () Chemistry 21
20 7 12 Math 19 13 4 8 Computer
Sci. 11 14 8 11 Astronomy 22 16
9 12 Physics 11 10 4 7 Chem. Eng. 21
19 4 10 Civil Eng. 22 11 3
10 Electrical Eng. 11 10 7
6 Mechanical Eng. 16 9 3 6 Economics
19 16 7 11 Political Science 36 28
14 23 Sociology 52
42 14 36 Psychology 45 40
14 33 Biol. Sciences 30 25
15 20
Underrepresentation of women at the top 50
science and engineering schools
President Larry Summers NBER
Talk (January 2005) Suggested 3 reasons in
order of importance for underrepresentation of
women in science1) Child care issues2) Innate
brain differences3) Discrimination
The More Geniuses, More Idiots Effect
Though men and women have the same average IQ
scores, men have the very best and worst scores.
Why Women Lack Great Originality A Biological
Limitation in the Maternal SourceHistorically
Uninventive in Dealing With Their Own Domestic
Problems By Dr. Simon Baruch New York Times,
July 14, 1915 These lines are written in no
spirit of controversy but simply to point out the
irrevocable law of natureand to arouse men to
abandon their indifference or ridicule toward
the blatant claims of the feminists. Is Woman
Biologically Barred from Success? By Rheta
Childe Dorr New York Times, Sept. 19, 1915
(quotation next slide)
Stephen Jay Gould The Mismeasure of Man
(1981) The long dismal history of racist and
sexist pseudoscientists claiming that biological
limitations justify social conditions.
Few tragedies can be more extensive than the
stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the
denial of opportunity to strive or even to hope,
by a limit imposed from without, but falsely
Identified as lying within.
My Lab How Does the Developing Brain Sculpt
its Neural Circuits?
Christopherson K, Ullian E, .., Barres BA
(2005) Thrombospondins are astrocyte-secreted
proteins that promote CNS synaptogenesis.
Cell 120, 421-33
The Calcium Channel Subunit a2d1 is the Neuronal
Thrombospondin Receptor Responsible for
Synaptogenesis (2008) Çagla Eroglu, ..., Ben A.
Barres. Cell, submitted.
Cagla Eroglu
starts Assistant Professorship this June
Department of Cell Biology, Duke University
The Classical Complement Cascade Mediates CNS
Synapse Elimination (Stevens B, Allen NJ, ,
Barres BA, Cell 131, 1164-78, 2007)
Beth Stevens
Will start position this June as Assistant
Professor, Neurobiology Program, Children's
Hospital, Harvard Medical School
My Transsexuality
Barbara Ben
What is Gender Identity?
  • Gender Identity is a persons innate sense of
    being male or female.
  • DSM includes a diagnosis of gender identity
    disorder or transsexualism in which ones mental
    sense of gender identity may differ from his/her
    anatomic or genetic sex.
  • I am not disordered. I am me.
  • 3. The desire for transsexuals to change sex is
    irresistably strong. Many will even cut off
    their own genitals or commit suicide.
  • 4. Transsexuals are the victims of severe job
    discrimination and violence. Society frowns
    harshly on anyone who dares to step out of their
    normal gender roles.
  • 5. Gender identity helps to explain why, when
    women think they are less feminine if they are
    good at math, that they underachieve.

Personal Encounters with Discrimination
  • As a woman
  • High school guidance councilor
  • MIT
  • Finding a research lab at MIT
  • During medical training
  • Postdoc fellowship competition
  • As a professor
  • Overt discrimination as a transsexual
  • Health insurance
  • Awareness of discrimination since sex change
  • Awareness of the many closeted LGBT academics
  • Awareness of how women and men are treated

Gender Identity and Stereotype Threat
Stereotype threat is the fear that one's
behavior will confirm an existing stereotype of
a group with which one identifies. This fear
causes an impairment of performance.
Spencer S, Steele C, Quinn D (1999)
StereotypeThreat and Womens Math Performance.
J.Exp. Social Psych.35, 428
Claude Steele
Exposure to Scientific Theories Affects Women's
Math Performance (2006) Dar-Nimrod and Heine.
Science 314, 435
The authors conclude These findings raise
discomforting questions regarding the effects
that scientific theories can have on those who
learn about them. Professor Summers comments
may have inadvertantly exacerbated the gender
gap in science through stereotype threat.
The Aftermath of the Summers Talk
Press coverage was vicious (the story that will
not die). Soon thereafter the Harvard
Corporation, lead by Hanna Gray, decided to give
Prof. Summers a large pay raise.
(African-American lawyer) Conrad Harper
resigned from the Corporation in disgust. There
was silence from the top scientific leadership
The Aftermath
From David X. Date January 29, 2008 To
ltnhopkins_at_mit.edugt Subject MIT as it used to
be Ms. Hopkins, Are you still there?  It is
hard to believe that MIT is still employing
someone who publicly denounced the scientific
method.  When I was a student there, the
scientific method was central to a scientific
career.  How low the Institute has fallen!  (Are
you recovering from your vapors?) Sincerely,Da
vid X Course V, 1972
Taboo or Untrue?

Steven Pinker argued that people were so angry
because they feel the idea that women are
innately inferior is so dangerous that it is
sinful even to think about it and it should be
taboo.  Harvard Law School professor Alan
Dershowitz sympathizes so strongly with this
view that he and Prof. Pinker taught a course
this past year called Morality and Taboo". 
Professor Summers is Invited to be a Guest in
the Morality and Taboo Course
I think it was, in retrospect, an act of
spectacular imprudence, he told the class. He
regretted that girls around the world came to
think that the president of Harvard believed they
couldnt be scientists. There are enormous
benefits to being a leader of a major
institution, but there are also costs and
limitations, I thought I could have it both
ways, and I was wrong.
-- Larry Summerss Evolution As reported by
David Leonhardt In the New York Times, June
10, 2007
Other Concurrent Events That Snapped Me Out of
My Denial About the Existence of Persistent
Gender-Based Bias in Academia
  • 1. Steven Pinker put forth an identical point of
    view to Summers in his book The Blank Slate about
    the innate limitations of women.
  • 2. So did Sir Peter Lawrence in his essay Men,
    Women, and Ghosts (PLoS Biology 2006).
  • 3. So did Harvey Mansfield argued in his book
    Manliness (2006)
  • Women were effectively being excluded from elite
    scientific competitions (NIH Pioneer Award, HHMI
    Investigatorships) by the nearly all male
    selection committees involved.

The Blank Slate (2002) By Steven Pinker The
Modern Denial of Human Nature
Men are innately better at Women are
innately better at More aggressive
Verbal abilities More ambitious Feel
emotions more strongly Take more risks
More empathy Better at spatialmath skills
Smile and laugh more Higher tolerance for pain
Prefer to take care of children
Men are inherently risk taking achievers who can
willingly endure discomfort in pursuit of
success, while Women are more likely to
choose administrative support jobs that offer low
pay in air conditioned offices
He thus frowns on any special efforts to
increase women faculty into science.
My Commentary Does Gender Matter? (2006)
Nature 442, 133-6
  • I am suspicious when those who are at an
    advantage proclaim that a disadvantaged group of
    people is innately less able.
  • 1. There is no compelling evidence for relevant
    innate gender differences in cognition.
  • 2. There is overwhelming evidence for severe
    gender prejudice.
  • 3. Both men and women often deny gender-based
    bias . We all have a strong desire to believe
    that the world is fair.
  • When faculty tell their students that they are
    innately inferior based on race or gender they
    are crossing a line that should not be crossed
    the line that divides responsible free speech
    from verbal violence.
  • In a culture where womens abilities are not
    respected, women cannot effectively learn,
    advance, lead or participate in society in a
    fulfilling way.

The Response to My Commentary
  1. It was covered by most major newspapers around
    the world.
  2. Hundreds of TV shows and radio stations asked to
    interview me.
  3. I received 8 book offers.
  4. I received hundreds of invitation to speak on
    this subject.
  5. I received over 3,000 e-mails from around the
    world. Less than ten were at all negative.
  6. About one third of them were from men. Most
    e-mails, male and female, told me of examples of
    gender-based prejudice in their own lives.
    Many men and women asked me what they could do to
    help make things better for women.

My Favorite E-mail
Date Fri, 14 Jul 2006 From Julie To Subject thank you Dear
Ben, Just wanted to say thanks so much for
coming forward with your experiencesI was a
Harvard student. I remember strongly a meeting I
had with the poet Adrienne Rich. I came away
from the meeting feeling shocked I realized it
was the first time Id felt truly taken seriously
as a person. Julie
Steven Pinker and Harvey Mansfield Respond by
Visciously Slurring my Transgender Identity
Two Harvard professors responded angrily with
Harvey Mansfield calling Barres a political
fruitcake and Steven Pinker saying that Barres
has reduced science to Oprah. Marcella
Bombardieri, Boston
Globe July 13, 2006
Response by Steven Pinker to my
Commentary Correspondence (Nature 442, 510)
  • 1. Barress review of scientific studies is one
    sided and anecdotal.
  • My commentary was rigorously peer reviewed
    (unlike his book).
  • 2. Pinker called a simple lie Barress
    suggestion that those who write
  • about gender differences are suggesting that
    a whole group of people
  • is innately wired to fail.
  • Pinker et al all argue strongly for female
    innate limitations.
  • 3. Barres should learn not to take hypotheses so
  • This is about social justice for women.
  • Men are better at some things and women are
    better at others.
  • Pinker should learn that hypotheses require
    supporting data.
  • 5. More mud slinging at me, calling my commentary
    a polemic that
  • contains numerous falsehoods and scurrilous

is a text on a topic written specifically to
dispute or refute a position or theory that
is widely viewed to be beyond reproach
grossly or obscenely abusive,
contains slander
Correspondence (Nature 442, 510) The gender
debate science promises an honest
investigation of the world By Steven Pinker
(Last Paragraph) As for encouraging women in
science in my experience, students of both
sexes are attracted to science because it
promises an honest investigation into how the
world works, an alternative to the subjectivity,
simplistic dichotomies and moralistic
name-calling that characterizes politics and
personal quarrels. Lets hope Barress
Commentary does not discourage them.
It is Steven Pinker Who Doesnt Get the
Concept of a University of Free Inquiry
Look, the truth cannot be offensivePeople who
storm out of a meeting without providing
arguments or evidence, dont get the concept of
a university or free inquiry.
--- Steven Pinker (Harvard Crimson Interview)
An environment supportive of free speech is not
possible when people with different views are
being visciously personally attacked.
Evolutionary Psychology
The goal of research in evolutionary psychology
is to discover and understand the design of the
human mind.
Some EP Principles 1. Our neural circuits
were designed by natural selection to solve
problems that our ancestors faced during our
species' evolutionary history. 2. Different
neural circuits are specialized for solving
different adaptive problems. 3. Our modern
skulls house a stone age mind.
There are many serious problems with this
approach 1. EP hypotheses are unfalsifiable and
untestable (just so stories). 2. EP hypotheses
involve circular reasoning They start out with
sexist Darwinian biases, like males are more
competitive, and then the results end at the
same starting point, concluding that male
neural circuits have evolved for competition.
Darwin's Belief in Male Superiority The chief
distinction in the intellectual powers of the two
sexes is shown by man's attaining to a higher
eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman
- whether requiring deep thought, reason, or
imagination, or merely the use of the senses and
hands. -- -Darwin, Descent of Man, 1871
Advantages of Marriage constant
companion.object to be loved and played
withbetter than a dog anyway, someone to take
care of house. Disadvantages of Marriage
perhaps my wife wont like London. Then the
sentence is banishment and degradation with
indolent idle fool. -- Autobiography of

The Feminist Perspective About Evolution
The Evolution of Woman An Inquiry Into the
Dogma of Her Inferiority By Eliza Burt Gamble
(1894) Although Darwin interpreted his data
to indicate that men were superior to women, she
saw female superiority.

The Woman That Never Evolved. By Sarah Blaffer
Hrdy (1981) She argued that Darwins notion
of a passive female role in sexual selection
stemmed from Victorian social conventions.
The Politics of Womens Biology. By Ruth Hubbard
(1990). So long as biology as an enterprise
is almost exclusively a male occupation it will
be a biased science, masquerading as objective,
and will make unfounded claims about women's
biology that will justify the inferior status of
Most Critiques of Evolutionary Psychology as
Science or Paradigm Have Been Devastating
Meet the Flintstones (2002). By Simon Blackburn,
Prof. of Philosophy, U. Cambridge What Comes
Naturally (2002). The New Yorker. By Louis
Menand. Darwinian Fundamentalism (1997) New York
Rev. Books. By Stephan Jay Gould. Not in
Our Genes Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature
(1984) By Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and
Leon Kamin Evolutionary Psychology The
Emperors New Paradigm. Trends Cog. Sci. 2005 By
David J. Buller (Prof. of Philsophy, N. Illinois
U.) Adapting Minds Evolutionary Psychology and
the Persistent Quest for Human Nature, MIT Press.
2005. By David J. Buller
Have Men and Women Evolved Different Cognitive
Neural Circuits?
The problem is that beyond the repeated
assertion that there may be an anatomico-physiolog
ical basis for differences in status, wealth, and
power, biological determinists have never found
any credible concrete basis for such differences.
For all I know, we are being visited daily by
extraterrestrial creatures. There is certainly
nothing in the laws of physics to prevent it. But
I really do require more than out-of-focus
snapshots to make me take the possibility
seriously. --Prof.
Richard C. Lewontin (1985, NYRB)
Harvard University
The Pinker-Spelke Debate Why So Few Women in
Science and Engineering?
  • Pinker Innate Differences gtgt Bias/Social
  • Gender differences exist in variability of
    math scores,
  • risk taking, preferences, etc
  • 2. Most gender stereotypes are accurate
  • 3. Innate biological factors (hormones, genes)

  • Spelke Bias/Social Factors gtgt Innate
  • There are no overall cognitive differences in
  • aptitude for science and math
    (Differences are not
  • deficiencies.)
  • Sex differences are not present in infants and
  • in childhood.
  • Evidence for strong social forces that affect
  • test scores and preferences/choices

The More Geniuses, More Idiots Effect Are
Geniuses Most of the Innovators?
Lewis Terman, psychologist and eugenics advocate
who developed the Stanford-Binet IQ
Test. Followed 1528 gifted (IQ gt 135) high
school students for 30 yr Most became
successful professionals but few very
innovative. Shockley and Pauling passed over for
the study (had IQ of 120)
(Described in Termans Kids and Broken Genius
both by Joel N. Shurkin)
Extreme Mathematical Achievement of Women is
Higher in Countries Where WomansSocial Status
is Higher Andrew M. Penner (Am. J. Sociology,
  • Strong social Influences lower womens math
  • 1. Stereotype threat
  • Popularity concerns
  • Boys take more math courses in response to
  • suggestion and greater mathematical confidence

If boys thought girls wouldnt like them if they
were good at math, there would be few boys
who are good at math.
-- Paul Erdos (1913-1996)
The SAT Math Test Gap is Rapidly Closing
Male to female ratio of Hopkins talent
search participants with scores over 700
Year Ratio 1983
13 to 1 1991 6 to 1
1997 4 to 1
2005 3 to 1
Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for
Mathematics and Science? A critical review.
Elizabeth S. Spelke, American Psychologist, Dec
Women Outperform Men in Gender-Blind Science
Problem Solving (Manuscript under review) By
Jeppesen, Lakhani, Lohse, Panetta Solve some of the toughest
problems facing the world today. Win cash awards
of up to 1,000,000 for your creative solutions
to Challenges in Business and Entrepreneurship
Chemistry Engineering and Design Life
Sciences Math and Computer Science Physical
Sciences Challenges are posted by corporations,
government agencies, and nonprofit organizations
who are looking for help.
Karim Lakhani Harvard Business School
Found women 3.5 X more likely to solve a problem
than men.
Other Concerns about the Blank Slate The
Interpretation of Differences as Male Superiority
Carol Gilligan found gender differences in moral
reasoning women are more concerned about the
welfare of groups whereas men are more concerned
about individual rights. Pinker argues if
Gilligan was correct that this would invalidate
women from becoming lawyers and Supreme Court
Justices. Why is the male perspective the only
one that counts to him in defining justice?
Education is a method whereby one acquires a
higher grade of prejudices. -- Laurence J.
Other Concerns about The Blank Slate Are Women
Less Likely to Take Intellectual Risks?
Pinker cited Gender Differences in Risk
Taking A Meta-Analysis By Byrnes, Miller, and
Schafer (Psych. Bull. 3, 367-83, 1999)

However 1. The intellectual risk
taking test was a math test. 2. A strongly
significant risk taking difference was only
observed at age 10 to 13 and was going
away by age 18 to 21. (no data for ages
older than 21)
My Questions for Steven Pinker
  • 1. Given all the evidence for bias and social
    forces, and the rapidly
  • improving performance of women on math
    tests, how can you
  • be so sure that the underrepresentation of
    women in science
  • reflects innate differences?
  • How can a talented women that wants to be a
    scientist be fairly
  • judged by merit when there is a strong
    stereotype that women in
  • general are less good at science?
  • Why do you ignore data that doesnt agree with
    your ideas? Could it be
  • your search for truth is not as objective as
    you think?
  • 4. Since you view women as having different but
    equal abilities, how
  • would you like to become a woman with only
    the abilities you attribute
  • to women?

Confounding Prejudice with Truth
The history of opinion regarding the cerebral
differences forms a painful page in scientific
annals. It is full of prejudices, assumptions,
fallacies, overhasty generalizations. Men of
science seem to have lost the scientific spirit
when they approached the study of its seat.
Many a reputation has been lost in these soft
and sinuous convolutions.
--Havelock Ellis
The greatest enemy of truth is not error but
-- Ashley Montagu
Harvey Mansfield and Manliness (2006)

Manliness is confidence in the face of risk
According to Mansfield, men are innately More
aggressive, assertive, philosophical
courage able to lead and command, competitive,
Any woman who shows these qualities he calls
manly. Most stereotypes are justified and have an
innate basis. Men disdain womans work and also
According to Mansfield, women Show a secret
liking for housework, enjoy changing diapers,
fear spiders.
Is it possible to teach a woman manliness and
thus to become more assertive? Or is that like
teaching a cat to bark? --Harvey
Are Women Less Willing to Risk Life or Limb?
The Heroism of Women and Men By Selwyn and
Eagly, Am. Psych. 59, 163-78, 2004
Who is more likely to risk life or limb?
1. Gentiles saving Jews during the
Holocaust Women 2. Kidney
donation Women 3. Peace corp
volunteers Women 4. Doctors of the
World Women 5. Winners of Carnegie
Medal for Heroism Men (involves
physical strength)
Mansfield said that he thought gay and
transgender people are on societys margin and
should remain there. Substitutes for the
traditional family are dysfunctional, you
wouldnt want children to grow up in them.
(Harvard Crimson, Oct 19, 2005 by Samuel
Jacobs) Mansfield has actively worked against
gay rights. He has testified as a paid expert
witness on a Colorado constitutional amendment
prohibiting cities from enacting gay rights
laws. Gay sex is shameful, a homosexual is not
generally as happy a person. Homosexuality
should be tolerated but disapproved of, as if it
is made respectable it will eventually undermine
civilization. Homosexualiity should be restricted
by the mechanism of shaming them. He also said
homosexuality, rightly, causes most regular
people to feel repulsed (Boston Globe Dec 7, 1993)
My E-mail to Harvey Mansfield
Q How's the hate mail? (NY Post Interview with
Harvey Mansfield, 2006)A I got a note from a
professor at Stanford saying, "Harvard fired
Larry Summers. Why don't they fire you?"
Dear Dr. Mansfield,   Please let me clarify. 
I believe in free speechbut I also believe that 
tolerance and freedom from sexual harassment are
important values as well.   What does tolerance
mean to you?   Is it all always about your rights
and your welfare?  You don't have a right to tell
young women in the classroom that they are
innately less good and should content themselves
to wash more dishes (as you said in yet another
interview the other day).  It's not only
incorrect, its deeply harmful.    And please
don't worry about being fired.  If history is any
indication, you are in line for a big pay raise
this year.Ben Barres, Professor of Neurobiology,
Stanford University
My Questions for Harvey Mansfield
  • 1. Does not your work on manliness tell us a lot
    more about you and your anxieties than it tells
    us about the actual subject?
  • 2. Why do you think it is fair that you can
    demand tolerance and rights to free speech for
    yourself from women, while you would gladly
    squelch their ability to participate fully and
    equally in the life of the university?
  • Given that you so strongly oppose affirmative
    action, now that girls are 60 of the top
    applicants to universities, do you feel it is
    appropriate that universities are now conducting
    affirmative action for boys?
  • Why are manly men so afraid to compete with women
    on a level playing field?

The Natural Superiority of Women (1952)
Every human being, regardless of group
membership, has the right to fulfill his
potentialities to the optimum. Anyone who
stands in the way of anothers development,
commits the greatest of all offenses against
Dr. Ashley Montagu was a British anthropologist
and humanist. He was amongst the first to
question the concept of race as a biological
entity. He taught at Harvard in the 1940)
The Harmfulness of Gender Stereotypes
  • Sexism drives women students from the classroom.
  • Dims ambitions (Anna Fels, Harvard Business Rev,
  • Lowers expectations
  • Lessens performance (stereotype threat)
  • Lowers self confidence and self esteem
  • Prevents fulfilling lives by limiting career
  • Makes leadership difficult if not impossible
  • Harm to Men less time for family, seen as
    emotionally stunted brutes, macho taller guys get
    leadership posts
  • Harm to Society The harm that is done to
    peoples hearts and souls when social justice is
    denied , maintenance of conformity, lowered
    innovation and productivity

Gender Stereotypes Cause Overt Discrimination
  • Many gender blinding studies reviewed in Why So
    Slow? by V. Valian., e.g. for job applications.
    (also see National Acad. of Sciences report,
    2007, on women in science)
  • Postdoc fellowship competition effect of 2.5-fold
  • Wennerås, C. Wold, A. Nature 387, 341343
  • Women musicians auditioning for symphony
    orchestras increased 5-fold with blind auditions
    (as reviewed in Bink, M. Galdwell).
  • 4. Double-blind review increases representation
    of female authors (2008) Trends in Ecol.and
    Evol.Biol.23 4-6, Budden et al.

Unconscious Gender Biases Are Prevalent in Both
Men and Women and Predict Behavior
Professor Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard University
Novel Methods to Measure Unconscious Bias. The
Implicit Association Test and Implications for
Social Justice
  • We all have unconscious biases
  • about gender and race.
  • Women are nearly as biased as
  • men about womens competence.
  • 3. The IAT is a powerful predictor of
  • how people behave.
  • 4. Important implications for
  • assessment of merit.

Is it Tenable Any Longer to Argue that Women Are
Innately Less Good at Science?
No demonstrated genetic or neurobiological
cognitive difference Extreme mathematical
achievement in women directly correlates with
cultural gender status and the test score gap is
rapidly shrinking Genius test scores do not
strongly predict innovativeness, and people with
IQs of 120 win Nobels Scientifically proven
gender bias and discrimination of stunningly high
degree. Women vastly underrepresented in
humanites as well as science. Women out perform
men in real life science problem
solving Simplest conclusion is that the dearth
of women scientists is caused largely by bias
and social factors.
The Battle for True Equality has Hardly
Begun Women Should Not Have to Become Men to
But Summers was not fired. He was given a pay
raise. By Hanna Gray, senior member of the
Harvard Corporation, and last June he was awarded
an honorary degree by Harvard. To be successful,
women have long had to take on the attitudes and
behaviors of men in order to advance. The
battle to be a women leader and still be a woman
is only just beginning. Being confident,
ambitious, or competitive does not make a woman
less of a woman. It is not shameful to be a
woman, and it is not shameful to look out for
the welfare of the half of students who are women.
Women just want the same thing that men do A
meritocracythats all !
Nancy Hopkins is a Great American Hero
One of the first women tenured full professors at
MIT. A member of the National Academy of
Science. One of the few accomplished senior
women scientists to devote much effort to
activism to help other women scientists Responsib
le for much of the increase in women faculty at
MIT over the past 15 years Accomplished landmark
study at MIT in 1999 demonstrating that women
faculty at MIT systematically received less
salary, lab space, and other resources than
comparable male faculty. Brought Larry Summers
comments denigrating women to public attention
The Importance of Diversity

Educatability is the outstanding characteristic
of the human species, and the variability both in
physical and mental traits is so great that no
two persons will ever be alike. It is in the
combination of these traits that the great riches
of humans lies. The strength of America is
rooted in its diversity, and it is because you
are different than me that you are precious to
me. --Ashley Montagu, The Natural
Superiority of Women

Diversity is critical for all universities
because it enhances the perspectives by which
we analyze ideas enhancing the search for truth
and the rate of innovation.
The Importance of a Diverse Work Place
  • 1. Drawing from a larger talent pool is only
  • 2. Lowered stereotype threat enables all to
    perform optimally.
  • 3. Companies with more women board directors
  • significantly higher financial performance
    (by 50).
  • 4. Same is true for companies with more
    racial/ethnic employees.
  • (Herring study as reported by S. Vedantam,
    Wash. Post).
  • 5. Diverse groups contain mixed perspectives and
  • in new ways (Shankar Vedantam)
  • 6. We cannot build a first rate scientific
    enterprise on a
  • foundation of second class citizens (Martin
    Luther King).

The womans cause is mans. They rise or fall
together. -- Tennyson
What Happens to Women in Largely Male Environments
Largely male environments are lethal to the
careers of young women scientists. In such
environments, women choose to leave
science. When faculty and leadership is diverse,
and there is a balance, the atmosphere changes
for the better for everyone, male and female. As
I visit universities, I am stunned to find that
women PhD students are already strongly doubting
an academic career in their first
years. University departments with a high
percentage of women faculty have been shown to
have a much higher percentage of women graduates
who are successful and stay in the pipeline.
What Can Be Done? Women You must ask for what
Individual Action Some Examples
  • Writing the Nature commentary
  • Writing to intolerant faculty
  • Selection process reform for elite scientific
    awards (HHMI)
  • I encourage talented women and minority
    applicants to apply to these awards
  • Referring students to young women and minority
  • Mention the experiments of women scientists when
    I teach
  • As a course director, make sure faculty lecturers
    are diverse
  • Journal editorial board diversity
  • Speaker diversity
  • I talk to my students about all of these issues
  • I write notes to university leadership when I am
  • about diversity issues (e.g.,

If Schools Care About the Female Brain Drain They
Must Act
  • 1. Climate surveys.
  • 2. Train women to achieve success in a
    prejudiced world.
  • Selection committees for awards, jobs, resources
    must be diverse.
  • More fairness in distribution of resources.
  • 5. Increase faculty diversity.
  • 6. Change in search policies needed nearly all
    male depts dont hire
  • women very often.
  • 7. US News and World Report should include
    diversity in its rating.
  • 8. Leadership diversity and accountability.
  • 9. Top leadership must be highly diverse.
  • Child care support Free day care for faculty
    (and help for students)
  • Rethinking work-life balance
  • Teach students how to assess and fight bigotry
    with their own
  • words, arguments, and deeds (MR22
    Justice, Prof. Sandel)
  • A new student alliance of diverse men and women
  • together for social justice.

Ultimately Each of us is Responsible For
Ensuring Social Justice
It is only when we do role reversal, and we see
through the eyes of others unlike us, that we can
no longer deny their reality, and we become
human. -- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Dignity of
Difference (2004)
True education is "being turned round," so that
you do not see things the way your (unjust)
upbringing taught you. --The Republic
The Greatest Taboo
Steven Pinker says it is taboo to suggest that
women are innately inferior. But I believe the
greatest taboo, by far, is to think that women
are not innately inferior. If we all truly
believed this, then we would have to finally ask
ourselves why so few women (and minorities) are
advancing, and realize that the answer lies
within all of our hearts.
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