Larence Summers' speech concerning the relative lack of women in the higher rankings of hard sciences falls short by not employing some of the principles of hard science. Instead of using hard evidence from well set-up experiments, he uses anecdotal evidence and the results of studies manipulated by statistics. One such example is his claim that men have an inherent proclivity and adeptness for the sciences that women don't have. To support this, he uses observations he made with his own daughters and the assumption that this piece of conventional wisdom holds true. naturally, most would agree that the story of his daughters proves nothing for the situation he is addressing, but the conventional notion that women don't have the intrinsic capacity for being adept at the sciences deserves a closer look, something any scientifically minded person would do.
One such person is Anne Fausto-Sterling, who's 'a question of Genius: Are Men Really Smarter Than Women' looks specifically at studies which attempt to quantify and compare the intellegence of men and women. In it, she adresses ow the method of satistics can cause certain conclusions to be drawn that aren't necessarily true. For example, while in a given case study, assuming it actually consists of a proper sample size and the test itself were objective, if one found that boys scored higher than girls on the math portion, one might quickly conclude that boys are better at math than girls. But looking at the result in a different light, if one was given the result of an individual's test, it would be impossible to tell if one was looking at the result of a boy or girl. It is impossible to differentiate the difference in scores based off of the inherent variablity within both men and women, and whatever difference *might* exist between men and women as a group. not to mention, as Fausto-Sterling does, that that very test cannot be objective anyway. For example, looking at the social conditions of the members of such a test group, Anne found that boys were often encouraged in science and math by their parents, while it was less likely that girls would be. Perhaps Summers' should look at and consider such circumstances, if only for a few minutes, instead of using statistics to validate conventional wisdom.
"There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics."