Title-Nining Hard Science
On July 15, 2008, John Tierney published an article on his New York Times science blog with the ominous message that federal civil rights regulators are aiming one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal, Title IX, against some university science departments. Title IX forbids gender discrimination in institutions receiving federal funds, and the science departments in question have fewer women among their students or faculty than complainants say they ought to have.
Until now, Title IX has been used almost entirely against athletic programs, requiring colleges to provide equal resources for men’s and women’s sports teams. The fact that gender disparity exists in science became widely known in 2005, when Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, impoliticly tried to answer a question about why relatively few women professors at Harvard are in fields like physics, chemistry, and engineering. Summers attributed the disparity to personal choice based on disposition. His words were reasonable, but feminists at Harvard interpreted (or distorted) his comments to imply that women lack aptitude for science. The resulting uproar ultimately caused Summers to be replaced as Harvard’s president by a woman reputed to be a militant feminist.
Disposition or Discrimination?
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Phillip E. Johnson is Professor of Law (emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Darwin on Trial, The Wedge of Truth, The Right Questions (InterVarsity Press), and other books challenging the naturalistic assumptions that dominate modern culture. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
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