Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Summers and Idiocy

Only a total idiot would comment on the Dr. Summers controversy, so here it goes:

His first cause for the low number of women in science was the need for near total commitment to the profession/job, the need to work 80 hours a week to make one's mark. He called for consideration of: "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?"

One thing I don't understand is why scientists would be more apt to work long hours than other occupations, whether it's law, social scientists, business, moviemakers, or whatever. Even bureaucrats have been known to work long hours at times. I'm not sure Summers has data for this assertion, but it seems to have been skipped over in all the controversy over his other statements.

Added on Feb. 23
says, some women will always
I can understand why people work 80 hours--the desire to perform is addictive. But as Anne Applebaum says here some women will always choose to devote energy to children. That must mean that, unless women are on average smarter than men (quite possible), we won't ever have equality in the outcomes. Summers was speaking universally, but, except for Israeli kibbutzes, using American data. I wonder whether other cultures achieve excellence with a 50 hour week? I would if it's possible for us to become less competitive? (It's been a while since I read "The Winner-Take-All Society" but it might be relevant.)

Added evening of Feb. 23

According to an article in the New York Review of Books reviewing The Fly in the Cathedral (on splitting the atom by Lord Rutherford's in a race with Lawrence), in Rutherford's physics lab the rule was everyone out by 6 pm and 4 times a year the lab was closed for 2 week vacations. The lab won several Nobels.

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