Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hume reads Taranto

Tonight, on the last All-Star panel segment of Special Report w/Brit Hume, Brit referred to the "Kerfuffle" over Larry Summers (alleged)"Where have all the science women gone" comment. I have no idea where the word Kerfuffle comes from, though I feel I should because I am vaguely aware that the word has started showing up quite often lately. At any rate, Taranto used the word in yesterday's Best of the Web:
The Boston Globe weighs in on the Larry Summers kerfuffle. Here's the penultimate paragraph:

There is also pressing work for Summers. He should continue to raise controversial issues and tough questions. But he must do so with greater diplomacy and a keener knowledge of current issues. Future queries might ask both about individuals--why are few women in science?--and institutions--why doesn't science attract more women?
Apparently the Globe editors are unaware that asking just those questions are what started the kerfuffle in the first place.

Presumably, the Boston Globe sees some merit in asking those questions. Charles Krauthammer agrees. He said tonight that Summers made a "perfectly reasonable" suggestion that there might be an genetic component to the lack of women in science. He further stated that there is no evidence to prove the contrary - that is, there is no scientific evidence that there isn't anything genetic that separates male and female understandings of different subjects. And, interestingly enough, I don't see a lot of science-minded women racing to disprove this idea that has certainly been around as long as women have been getting the "vapors" at the very thought of the idea itself.

Now, as a woman with a Bachelor's degree in physics, I have been following this story since I first read about it in the Wall Street Journal. When a female interior designer with zero interest in science brought it up at dinner that same night, I knew that a ...kerfuffle was on the horizon.

So I'm a woman in science...but I'm not actually in science, as it were. I really wish I could say that Harvard didn't hire me to teach physics there because of some genetic deformity or something - but I can't. You know the real reason Harvard hasn't hired me?


Moreover, no physics grad schools admitted me.

Again. Because I didn't apply. And it's not as if I didn't apply because I thought I was physically incapacitated from performing up to the high level of Physics graduate studies - I just wasn't interested.

I think before Mr. Summers comments become even more blown out of proportion someone should ask some questions about how many women are actually applying for these science positions and how many are being turned away and WHY. The WHY is very important you see, because otherwise it's just some bizarre cousin of affirmative action, only now for science minded women.

The fact of the matter is there are just less women in science, especially in physics. In my graduating class there were about 8 physics students, 3 of them women. Are they intimidated? Maybe. But I think a lot of men are too - at least that is my understanding based on 3 years of saying that my degree is in physics and hearing people of both sexes say things like "Physics?! Oh boy!"

Personally, I'm not that impressed with it - and I'm a woman, for whatever it's worth.