Jim Manzi of The American Scene posted an article today concerning recent remarks from Barnard College President Debora Spar. In these remarks she relies upon some pretty significant gender-based assumptions to conclude that:
Whatever the reason, the experience of the past year suggests that we desperately need to bring more women into leadership positions on Wall Street, in politics, in regulatory bodies and in American life generally.
Manzi contrasts these remarks to those made by former Harvard President Lawrence Summers who in 2005 said of the difference between men and women in science and engineering jobs that:
One is what I would 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.
Manzi ends his article by writing:
So, presumably all of those who critcized the Summers talk will promulgate at least equally vehement reactions to Spar’s article – right?
I am quite tired of the double standard that applies for discussions of gender. Summers was ostracized for his comments and called a sexist (among other, surely worse terms). Spar here will probably get off with very little, if any, criticism and almost certainly won’t lose her job because of the remarks. If a woman is able to say what Spar said and have that be viewed as acceptable then the remarks of Summers ought to be acceptable as well. If women have the right to make generalizations and assumptions about men then men ought to have the right to make those generalizations and assumptions about women. All ought to be held accountable to the same standard of acceptability.