This past Monday, the President of Harvard University, Dr. Larry Summers, after receiving a vote of no confidence by the Harvard faculty, finally resigned. For most individuals concerned with minority rights, Monday was a fine day. During his presidency, Summers succeeded in losing the once famous African American department by insulting Cornel West and a few others, most of whom defected to Princeton. Then, he made the outrageous comment that women are naturally less skilled in sciences and that is why there are fewer women in those departments. The fact that he lasted so long was at once a surprise and a testament to the kind of sexism this society tolerates.
Today there's another testament, from our fave columnist Matthew Gillum. While Gillum's outright racism with regard to Cornel West and his interest in hip hop as a form of political resistance seemed enough to stir up a crowd, the sexism in his Summers-worship put even Summers (who has since apologized for the comment) to shame.
But the defining moment of his tenure was during a conference on the gender imbalance in science last year. In a moment that would go down in infamy, he suggested that innate sex differences might partially explain the preponderance of men at the highest levels of math and science. His basic argument that the variance in mental ability among males is greater (that is, that males are more likely to be at the extremes of intelligence, both high and low) is well-established and particularly obvious on the low end -- how many females get Darwin awards? . . . The fact of the matter is that most people don't have what it takes -- which includes drive -- to be a professor at Harvard, and those that do are drawn from the extreme hinterlands of the bell curve, where males tend to be more abundant. This is one possibility that deserves to be considered, and Summers displayed courage and remarkable leadership for highlighting it.Frankly, I don't have words.