CSWP Responds to Harvard University President’s Comments

January 19, 2005
Letter sent to the Editor of the New York Times:

We were disappointed to learn about the recent comments of Harvard President Summers. Leaders in academia wondering aloud if women may be genetically inferior in math/science skills perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophecy: that we will continue to see few women who are willing to devote their lives to science. While it is tempting to propose a genetic explanation for the under-representation of women, research shows, for example, that identical papers are judged to be of lower quality when the purported author is a woman rather than a man (Paludi and Bauer, 1983). We also know that the representation of female scientists in some countries is significantly higher than in the US, again at odds with a genetic explanation for under-representation. We expect leaders of elite academic institutions to do their research before lending their voices to such unsubstantiated prejudices.

Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, American Physical Society

Aihua Xie, Chair, 2005
Kimberly Budil
Bernice Durand
Patricia Mooney
Margaret Murnane
Peter Sheldon
Marc Sher
Roxanne Springer
Sherry Yennello