Monday, February 14, 2005

Boys Beat Girls At Trivia As Well

In a Boston Globe Op-ed demonstrating only that you don't have to be smart to to be president of a prestigious university, John Hennessey, Susan Hockfield and Shirley Tilghman, again beat the carcass of Larry Summers' entirely pedestrian observation on the discrepancy between men and women's performance at math:

Extensive research on the abilities and representation of males and females in science and mathematics has identified the need to address important cultural and societal factors.

Speculation that "innate differences" may be a significant cause for the under-representation of women in science and engineering may rejuvenate old myths and reinforce negative stereotypes and biases.

Why is this so important? Our nation faces increasing competition from abroad in technological innovation, the most powerful driver of our economy, while the academic performance of our school-age students in math and science lags behind many countries. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that we tap the talent and perspectives of both males and females. Until women can feel as much at home in math, science, and engineering as men, our nation will be considerably less than the sum of its parts. If we do not draw on the entire talent pool that is capable of making a contribution to science, the enterprise will inevitably be underperforming its potential.

As the representation of women increases in every other profession in this country, if their representation in science and engineering does not change, these fields will look increasingly anachronistic, less attractive, and will be less strong. The nation cannot afford to lose ground in these areas, which not only fuel the economy, but also play a key role in solving critical societal problems in human health and the environment.

And on and on it goes in that vein, begging the question to the bitter end.

The FLUBA Committee on Anything You Can Do... notes that last week the television game show, Jeopardy!, initiated its Ultimate Tournament of Champions to see how last year's millionaire champion Ken Jennings would compare to previous stars. 144 former champions in all will compete.

Fewer than 20% of them appear to be female according to the roster on the show's website.

And, of the seeded former champions (such as Chuck Forest and Million Dollar Master Brad Rutter) only one of nine is a woman. The Tournament's ultimate winner will take home over $2,000,000.

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