$50m to fight sex bias at Harvard
The president of Harvard, who caused a furore by saying that men outperform women in maths and sciences because of innate differences, has said the university will spend more than $50-million in recruiting, supporting and promoting women.
Lawrence Summers, who survived a no-confidence vote following his comments, said the money will be spent on initiatives, including mentoring, child care and late-night transport, to improve conditions for women scientists.
The measures were met with caution by some of his most vociferous critics.
“I guess the question is: Is there really some meat to this or is it all window dressing?” Mary Waters, the head of Harvard’s sociology department, told The Associated Press.
During a speech at a conference in January, Summers said women lag behind men in the sciences because of biological differences, using as an example his daughter’s attitude to her toy trucks.
He also said that female academics are held back by their child-care responsibilities and denied that discrimination is a factor in university hiring and promotion.
Summers soon apologised for sending “an unintended signal of discouragement to talented girls and women”, and less than a month later appointed two faculty taskforces on women, which came up with Tuesday’s proposals.
However, the career economist—who served as a treasury secretary under Bill Clinton—refused to step down despite the no-confidence vote from the arts and sciences faculty, and instead pledged to do more to draw women to science at the university.
The new measures include instruction in anti-gender bias for science graduate students before they are given teaching assignments.—Guardian Unlimited Â.