John Tierney, whose claim to being a science writer seems to consist of one-third ego and two-thirds gonads, once again takes on the burning question of whether women should be allowed to be scientists.
I am sure that he would object to that characterization. But that's what it comes down to. The quibbling over the very ends of the distributions for one kind of test. Ignoring all the other characteristics that might go into success. And ignoring the social difficulties laid on women who are talented in science, although John promises us that he will consider such things in another article.
The tone and words are the same that have appeared in such articles since I was a girl. They've left out the objection that we will get married and have children, which clearly will destroy our brains, but all the rest is there.
Dana makes a number of good points, and LizardBreath is succinct, but let me add one more consideration, or maybe two.
There is a great deal of educational literature that shows that encouragement (or discouragement) by teachers has an enormous effect on students' achievement, as does their expectations of the students' capabilities. Those tiny tails, so important to the ego of male professors at Harvard (and male science writers at the NYT?), have nothing to do with how teachers should teach, but repeating over and over again that men will always be better than women at science and mathematics is bound to influence them. The statistics that Tierney cites, that women are achieving outlier status on tests more often, would seem to indicate that improved encouragement of girls in "men's" fields is making a difference. But not enough difference for Tierney!
And, just a simple question. Would Tierney write an article like this about differentials in scores between ethnic groups?