Forbes just ran an article about Lawrence Summers’ comments and yes, it’s written by a right wing capitalist ideologue publication (the author is Dan Seligman whose name, at least, sounds Jewlicious), but heck, it’s got some fascinating info in it. For example:
1) A 2001 survey conducted by the National Science Foundation established that there were 285,500 individuals with Ph.D.s working as mathematicians, computer scientists, physical scientists and engineers, and only 11.5% of them were women.
2) In the index of a math text the names attached to mathematical discoveries–Gauss, Euler, Riemann, Newton, Legendre, Poisson, Fourier, Cauchy and so on–almost invariably belong to men.
3) Since 1938 only 3 of the 335 winners in the prestigious William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition have been women. The test, whose graders do not know the names of the contestants, is one of ingenuity, not knowledge, so a possible lack of access to advanced math courses is not very relevant to the outcome.>
r male variability in intellectual skills. In math and many other disciplines men are overrepresented at the extremes: more gifted students but also more who are learning-disabled. On the math SAT men are 30% more likely than women to score in the 600 to 649 range. But they are 150% more likely to score over 750. And, as noted, they are 11,067% more numerous among Putnam winners.
A final reason for the shortage of women in math and the physical sciences is a lack of female interest in the core content of these fields–many of which tend to emphasize abstract and mechanical themes. Studies matching equally gifted men and women, all of whom have the ability to make it in the physical sciences, have shown that the men are about eight times as likely as the women to enter these fields. The talented women repeatedly look around for something else, preferably involving disciplines affecting human beings (like, say, biology).