« Bookmarks Blog | Main | NSF Challenge Bookmark »

MIT Professor Stands up and Walks out on Harvard President

This article came to me through AAUW. It's quite remarkable how prejudice can persist. What amazes me is that his comments were addressed to a meeting on women and minorities in Science and Technology.

"Here was this economist lecturing pompously (to) this room full of the country's most accomplished scholars on women's issues in science and engineering, and he kept saying things we had refuted in the first half of the day," said Denton, the outgoing dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Washington.

Summers already faced criticism because the number of senior job offers to women has dropped each year of his three-year presidency.
~Harvard President Article

When Summers used personal anectodal "evidence" for his suggestion, a professor at MIT had apparently had enough and walked out.

Update: It's always a good idea to double-check sources, and I should have double checked about who the president of MIT is.

The buzz on technorati is mixed. Much of it seems to flippantly defend Summers and his statements. Very sad. I can't immagine what the response would be if he'd chosen and ethnic group instead of a gender.


Hmm, when that story first came out I remember hearing that the transcript gave a very different picture than the media report did. Have you gone to source info on this yet? (I might have confused it with some other story, however.)


Hi John,

The transcript for the speach isn't available, unfortunately.

Here are some articles in the Chronicle:




Different people seemed to have taken issue with different parts of his speach. The "innate ability" one is getting most attention. He also mentioned time take to raise a family.

From what I've been reading, this guy might be a bigot on several fronts.

The most hilarious defense of him I've seen was this statement:
"Teachers love bright children regardless of gender. They often prefer girl students because they are better behaved."
This coming from someone who claims people are not subconsciously prejudice. LOL.

Hi Chloe,

Thanks for commenting, and welcome to GalaxyGoo :-)

It astounds me how difficult it is to acknowledge one's own bias, as in the quote/link you posted. I'm not quite sure how to comment on the rest of the article. It's hard to know where to start. What I don't understand is how being an "outspoken feminist" invalidates her response to Summers' statements, unless the person making that comment is mearly exposing their own prejudice. If a theif grabs my purse, and I cry "stop that thief", does that then make me an unreliable witness to the crime? An extreme analogy, but not without all merit perhaps?