Gender and Learning

May 20, 2005 • Volume 15, Issue 19
Are there innate differences between the sexes?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

Kirsti Ritalahti, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology, examines unusual microorganisms that research team leader Frank Löffler thinks may clean up polluted environments. Today women constitute almost half of college math majors and more than half the biology majors.  (Georgia Institute of Technology/Gary Meek)
Kirsti Ritalahti, a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology, examines unusual microorganisms that research team leader Frank Löffler thinks may clean up polluted environments. Today women constitute almost half of college math majors and more than half the biology majors. (Georgia Institute of Technology/Gary Meek)

Harvard President Lawrence Summers ignited a firestorm recently when he suggested more men than women are scientists because of differences between males and females in “intrinsic aptitude.” Many scientists — both men and women — expressed outrage at Summers' remarks and blamed any lag in math among girls mainly on discrimination and socialization. They point out that girls have closed the gap in average scores on most standardized math tests in elementary and high school. Today women constitute almost half of college math majors and more than half of biology majors. But Summers' supporters say he courageously raised a legitimate question for scientific inquiry. Indeed, in recent years some researchers have been pursuing a scientific explanation for the discrepancies in math and science aptitude and achievement among boys and girls and have found differences, including biological ones.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education and Gender
Sep. 07, 2018  The STEM Gender Gap
May 20, 2005  Gender and Learning
Jul. 12, 2002  Single-Sex Education
Jun. 03, 1994  Education and Gender
May 07, 1969  Coeducation: New Growth
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Biology and Life Sciences
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