"So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong."
Well, I don't really see anything there that is in itself sexist or upsetting. I consider myself a "new feminist" which could be described in the vernacular of an old car commercial, "Not your father's feminist." What I mean is that I am comfortable in my femininity and my feminine strengths and weaknesses. I acknowledge that as a female there are some things in which I don't have the same aptitude or abilities as most males. I like math and science a lot and might have a higher aptitude for those things than the 'average' female, but I'm not offended or bothered that many males have a higher aptitude in those things, and therefore have more jobs in those fields.
In contrast, I have greater aptitudes for some things than most males. Nurturing and understanding interpersonal relationships and knowing how to make others feel better are some of my 'female' strengths for which most males have lower aptitudes. Is that a sexist remark? Perhaps I will reword Summers' remark:
"So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of parenting and nurturing, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong."
Now am I going to be attacked as a sexist for saying that females have certain other higher aptitudes than males and that explains why more women are stay-at-home parents than men? I hope not. I hope that people will get over themselves and think rationally about these things. Watching the Olympics has reinforced my understanding of intrinsic aptitudes and variabilities of aptitudes. As I mentioned in a previous post on the Olympics each sport has a particular body type which facilitates excellence in that sport. The downhill skiers are generally tall, heavily muscular people. The figure skaters are generally shorter and have more muscular legs and butts. The speed skaters have those huge thighs. It seems that people who are genetically predisposed to a particular body type and stength are the ones at the elite levels of their sports. We (collectively) don't seem to have a problem acknowledging that particular body types have a higher aptitude for certain sports. So why would we think that our brains are any different in that respect? Why are people so frightened to acknowledge differences in mental aptitudes?
Part of the answer to that last question probably has to do with the aptitudes that we place high value on in our society. And that point is covered in the Summers quote when he mentions "socialization and continuing discrimination." And those issues are being examined and studied. I hope that eventually we all can learn to appreciate our own strengths and weaknesses and stop belly-aching over the ones that we don't have. I learned in my years of figure skating that I didn't have what it takes to be a world class skater. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I say that I was being discriminated against? No, that would have been ridiculous. Do I have the aptitude to be a brilliant physicist? No, but I don't let that stop me from trying to learn as much as I can.
I suppose I might sound like I'm singing that "Let's Celebrate Our Differences" song. Well, what's wrong with that?
To end with a little humor, here are some new Politically Correct terms:
HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT WOMEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:
1. She is not a "BABE" or a "CHICK" - She is a "BREASTED AMERICAN."
2. She is not a "SCREAMER" or a "MOANER" - She is "VOCALLY APPRECIATIVE."
3. She is not "EASY" - She is "HORIZONTALLY ACCESSIBLE."
4. She is not a "DUMB BLONDE" - She is a "LIGHT-HAIRED DETOUR OFF THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY."
5. She has not "BEEN AROUND" - She is a "PREVIOUSLY-ENJOYED COMPANION."
6. She is not an "AIRHEAD" - She is "REALITY IMPAIRED."
7. She does not get "DRUNK" or "TIPSY" - She gets "CHEMICALLY INCONVENIENCED"
8. She does not have "BREAST IMPLANTS" - She is "MEDICALLY ENHANCED."
9. She does not "NAG" you - She becomes "VERBALLY REPETITIVE."
10. She is not a "TRAMP" - She is "SEXUALLY EXTROVERTED."
11. She does not have "MAJOR LEAGUE HOOTERS" - She is "PECTORALLY SUPERIOR."
12. She is not a "TWO-BIT HOOKER" - She is a "LOW COST PROVIDER."
HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT MEN AND BE POLITICALLY CORRECT:
1. He does not have a "BEER GUT" - He has developed a "LIQUID GRAIN STORAGE FACILITY."
2. He is not a "BAD DANCER" - He is "OVERLY CAUCASIAN."
3. He does not "GET LOST ALL THE TIME" - He "INVESTIGATES ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS."
4. He is not "BALDING" - He is in "FOLLICLE REGRESSION."
5. He is not a "CRADLE ROBBER" - He prefers "GENERATIONAL DIFFERENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS."
6. He does not get "FALLING-DOWN DRUNK" - He becomes "ACCIDENTALLY HORIZONTAL."
7. He does not act like a "TOTAL ASS" - He develops a case of RECTAL-CRANIAL INVERSION."
8. He is not a "MALE CHAUVINIST PIG" - He has "SWINE EMPATHY."
9. He is not afraid of "COMMITMENT" - He is "RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGED."
10. He is not "HORNY" - He is "SEXUALLY FOCUSED."
11. It's not his "CRACK" you see hanging out of his pants - It's "REAR CLEAVAGE."