Spelke-Pinker debate: The Science of Gender and Science

PINKER: But that makes the wrong prediction: the harder the science, the greater the participation of women! We find exactly the opposite: it’s the most subjective fields within academia — the social sciences, the humanities, the helping professions — that have the greatest representation of women. This follows exactly from the choices that women express in what gives them satisfaction in life. But it goes in the opposite direction to the prediction you made about the role of objective criteria in bringing about gender equity. Surely it’s physics, and not, say, sociology, that has the more objective criteria for success.

There is a nice article on Dr. Elizabeth Spelker in the NYT. In it, I found a link to a debate in 2005 between Dr. Steven Pinker and Dr. Spelke, both at Harvard, which was triggered by the (in)famous remarks of Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, on women in Science.

The debate is very interesting. They do not really differ on the facts, but on the interpretations. There is a video, and copies of the slide presentations, plus the text of the discussion at the end. Watch, listen, read, and make up your own mind.

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