I think we have some awesome things, as a group, to present tomorrow. Essentially, my contribution comes from discussions I've had with Naomi and Helen Longino (another philosophy professor).
One needs to look very carefully at not only the source of scientific findings, but also at the context in which they are being utilized. We (as a society) ought to take the time to interrogate the assumptions, experiences and social circumstances of all the parties involved. In my mind, this is one of the messages of this course-- that things such as "objectivity" and "science" do not exist in an intellectual vacuum, and that there really is no such thing as absolute certainty or neutrality. All researchers and reporters of research are "positioned"... Both professors will concede that there is likely some compelling evidence for sex differences in certain abilities. What those are, exactly, and how they would factor into the process and efficacy of education are very much up for debate. In addition, what are the aims of such research? How do (or can) they contribute to a productive discussion about different demographics in science and math-related industries? How do such findings bode for the advancement of equal treatment and opportunity for talented and motivated women? In what way could such findings add to the general advancement of human understanding and pursuit of personal happiness?
These are the questions we might want to ask. I'd like to point out that these purported differences are by nobody's account great, or even persistent. The "debate" is in some ways not about the science so much as their social implications, insinuations, and the lack of trust between those operating in different intellectual paradigms.
I think I will quote the statement that Pinker made for the presentation. I may add a few other points, but Pinker really summarizes what I want to say. The quote I am referring to is listed under my post, "Good Summary".
I will mention how Pinker thinks that the belief that individuals are born "unisex" and then shaped by environment from there on out is becoming less credible.
Another quote I'd like to add is this, from the Salt Lake Tribune:
"Pinker's point is that men and women are very much the same and yet quite different, and many of those differences exist in every culture on earth. Even in places such as the Israeli kibbutz, which has tried to be gender-neutral in assigning roles, Pinker notes a gender-specific aspect to the division of labor: Women in all cultures have more responsibility for raising children, while men are more dominant in the political realm. Men in every society are more driven by the prospect of sex and are more aggressive in general.
There is nothing to fear from acknowledging that men and women have different psychological tendencies. What we should fear is the hysteria that occasions the speaking of uncomfortable truths. The academy is a place where all ideas should be welcome - free to rise and fall on their own empirical merit. But don't expect that to happen at Harvard any time soon."
Here is some summary about what Summers actually said that I will cover in class;
The controversial remark: "One is what I would call the-I'll explain each of these in a few moments and comment on how important I think they are-the first is what I call the high-powered job hypothesis. The second is what I would call different availability of aptitude at the high end, and the third is what I would call different socialization and patterns of discrimination in a search. And in my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described."
Factor 1 captures the idea that women self select away from high intensity jobs in order to raise families and do other things of that sort. "Is our society right to expect that level of effort from people who hold the most prominent jobs? Is our society right to have familial arrangements in which women are asked to make that choice and asked more to make that choice than men?"
Factor 2 refers to the fact that men may have a flatter normal curve, meaning that more men have abilities at the far end of the spectrum. Summers attributes this to genetics not environment, and defends his view. "Yeah, look anything could be social, ultimately in all of that. I think that if you look at the literature on behavioral genetics . . . the evidence is really quite striking and amazing . . . but if somebody thinks that there is proof in these two books, that these phenomenon are caused by something else, I guess I would very respectfully have to disagree very very strongly with that. "
Factor 3 refers to explicit and / or passive discrimination.Summers thinks that it is true that discrimination plays a role in underrepresentation, but not the greatest role.
Here is an article I found which does a good job of explaining some of the basic brain functional/organiztion differences between the sexes. It cites several groundbreaking experiements peformed in the last ten years or so which have involved research regarding brain structure and how it relates to the differences in the intellectual development process of boys and girls.
It is important to note that these studies niether support nor refute Summers' claims, as they show no correlation to adult intellectual ability or job performace aptitudes but simply attempt to idenfity and classify differences in the way the human brain matures, and the differences in the way men and womens' brains develop and process information. http://www.singlesexschools.org/brain.html
I'm not quite sure if this article is a legitimate one in regards to authenticity. However, it provides some an interesting point of view. Click here to read it. I think it's just a blog online, and there are responses to it as well that disagree.
Just something to include. Also I wanted to include this site, because it's funny. Get a taste of what students are sharing that attend Harvard.