This article from the NYT on the results of a study of women in science and engineering was one of the brighter spots in my day. Not because the news is good (far from it), but because the conclusions are so important and it feels good to see this relayed in a major newspaper. I am furious when I hear the assertion that women are less successful in certain fields because they are innately less capable, less motivated and interested, or just not qualified to do the work. It’s ridiculous and dehumanizing, and yet there’s been a rash of this line of thought on some of the tech blogs lately.
A couple of quotes that caught my eye:
The panel dismissed the idea, notably advanced last year by Lawrence H. Summers, then the president of Harvard, that the relative dearth of women in the upper ranks of science might be the result of “innate” intellectual deficiencies, particularly in mathematics.
If there are any cognitive differences, the report says, they are small and irrelevant.
The report also dismissed other commonly held beliefs that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families, and so on. Their real problems, it says, are unconscious but pervasive bias, arbitrary and subjective evaluation processes, and a work environment in which anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a wife is at a serious disadvantage.