Lawrence Summers stepped down yesterday as President of Harvard University after a stormy five-year tenure. In March of 2005, Summers (former Secretary of the Treasury under the Clinton administration) garnered a no-confidence vote from the Harvard faculty; he faced a second censuring in the wake of the resignation three weeks ago of William C. Kirby, Dean of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences. Like many folks associated with the “college outside of Boston,” Summers has a propensity for talking out of his butt. His most controversial remarks concerned the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering fields:
So my best guess, to provoke you, of what’s behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people’s legitimate family desires and employers’ current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong.
…Blah blah blah, basically what the dude said was that chicks are dumb in math and too busy making babies to hold down a real job.
To this correspondent, even more egregious was Summers’ 2002 dissing of Cornel West (scholar, rapper, and featured player in two-thirds of the Matrix trilogy), who left Harvard’s African-American Studies Department to rock the mike at Princeton after Summers’ suggestion that he devote more time to “traditionally academic pursuits.” Hmmph. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, suckah.