Discrimination or difference? Harvard Chief’s foot remains in mouth

From The New York Times:

The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, who offended some women…

[and men!]

…at an academic conference last week by suggesting that innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers, stood by his comments yesterday but said he regretted if they were misunderstood.

Economists, like (other?) scientists, have a hard time shaking the illusion of their own rationality — they don’t really understand how their own decisions can be based on anything other than the truth. So (according to The Guardian):

During Dr Summers’s presidency, the number of tenured jobs offered to women has fallen from 36% to 13%. Last year, only four of 32 tenured job openings were offered to women.

Of course this must be due to real differences, not, say, unconscious discrimination. Really, every day we all see bias and prejudice at work, insidiously: we are more comfortable with colleagues like us (whether it’s gender, race, education, geekiness, whatever), so we unconsciously make tiny choices showing those preferences, tiny choices that in the end add up to real differences in the way people are treated.

Meanwhile, other US universities from MIT to Princeton and Duke are actually making changes — and seeing the effects. Like Harvard, most of the UK is lagging behind.

One response to “Discrimination or difference? Harvard Chief’s foot remains in mouth”