Monday, March 07, 2005

ASA Statement on Gender Differences in Math and Science

Statement of the ASA Council on the Causes of Gender Differences in Science and Math Career Achievement

This is a response by the ASA to the controversy started by Larry Summers, president of Harvard.

Here are the first two paragraphs:
"Harvard University President Lawrence Summers' recent statement that innate differences between the sexes might explain women's poor representation in science and engineering has generated strong public debate. Summers' "call for more research" (especially as President of one of America's most prestigious academic institutions) suggests that there is no overwhelming body of serious scholarship that informs this topic []. Yet there is substantial research that provides clear and compelling evidence that women, like men, flourish in science, just as in other occupational pursuits, when they are given the opportunity and a supportive environment.*

Measures of gender differences in such areas as verbal, mathematical, and spatial abilities have changed over time showing virtually no differences at the present time. While contestations remain in the research over explanations for the source of any differences in performance, the far greater explanatory power lies in differential access and support. Studies show that social and cultural assumptions and stereotypes about differences in women's and men's abilities are the cause of noticeable differences in their interests and performance. Not surprisingly, therefore, such assumptions also have a larger impact on judgments about people's potential job performance and success. "

The statement is followed by a list of suggested readings that includes a publication co-authored by blogger Jeremy Freese.


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

I was just thinking that if anything good could come out of these comments, at least its gotten people talking about gender and equality again. In my Women's Studies class this semester, we were talking about "post-feminists", people who believe that women and men are equal and we need to move on: there is no more need for feminism. Thanks to Summers, he gave us just the ammo we need to prove there is still need for a Women's Movement. His comments got people OUTSIDE of academia talking about differences in gender-role expectations. And Summers just proved that in one of America's most prestigious universities, which should be on the cutting edge of creating equality for women, still has a long long way to go.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Erin said...

good point.


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