to people who heard the comments, Summers said that there are few top female scientists
because women with children were often unwilling or unable to work 80-hour weeks,
but also because more males earn the best scores on math and science tests in
late high school.
Summers said cutting-edge research has shown that genetics
are more important than previously thought, compared with environment or upbringing,
the Boston Globe reported.
In his talk, according
to several participants, Summers also used as an example one of his daughters,
who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral parenting.
Yet she treated them almost like dolls, naming one of them "daddy truck"
and the other "baby truck."
It was at this point that Nancy Hopkins,
a Harvard graduate and biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked
out, saying later that if she hadn't left, "I would've either blacked out
or thrown up."
"It is so upsetting that all these brilliant young
women [at Harvard] are being led by a man who views them this way," she said
later in an interview.
The Harvard Faculty Standing Committee on Women sent
a formal letter to the president objecting to his comments, saying they "impede
our current efforts to recruit top women scholars."
quickly issued formal letter printed on the university's Web site.
reports to the contrary, I did not say, and I do not believe, that girls are intellectually
less able than boys, or that women lack the ability to succeed at the highest
levels of science. As the careers of a great many distinguished women scientists
make plain, the human potential to excel in science is not somehow the province
of one gender or another," Summer's letter stated.