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Statement From the Rosalind Franklin Society: Lawrence Summers Not the Right Choice for Cabinet Position in Obama Administration
Date:11/11/2008

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American electorate has changed the course of history by demonstrating that an African American can do anything. We hope that the messages of the Obama presidency will be broader than that -- that any American can do anything. That includes women. Lawrence Summers is not an appropriate choice for a cabinet position. The cabinet position is about economics. The contributions of science are important to the health of the economy, and women's role in scientific advances has not been inconsequential, and will continue to be significant, emphasizes the Rosalind Franklin Society.

In 2005, Summers publicly questioned whether women have the innate ability to be scientists. Although he later apologized for the comments, he never said that he was wrong and why.

Many people attempted to explain the nature of bigotry to Summers. Many shared with him the abundant evidence that contradicts his statement -- our most successful and talented scientists include many women, there is no evidence that women have any less innate ability or lower performance in math or science than men, and the rapid change in representation of women in science over the past 30 years (1,000-fold in some fields!) indicates that the overwhelming barriers are ones that can be changed quickly by society, not genetics.

In 2006, a comprehensive report from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine explored and evaluated the relevant literature and identified the barriers preventing women from further advancement in science. Those barriers are most certainly not innate ability. Summers has seen this report.

Summers' comments did damage. They deterred girls from aspiring to careers in science and changed the confidence with which teachers and parents delivered the message, "you can do anything" to girls interested in science. Lawrence Summers' comments were most
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SOURCE Rosalind Franklin Society
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