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Analysis of Media Coverage of the Summers Controversy

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The aspects that newspapers chose to focus upon were undoubtedly similar to those discussed by Larry Summers, although the purported “ inherent inability” of women to comprehend science and math were highly publicized than other elements of the speech. This became evident following the release of the speech transcript. Larry had begun his conference speech by clearly stating that he had been requested by the organizers to present a provocative lecture. He then made note of the fact that, even though he was about to address the underrepresentation of women top science teaching posts, women were not the only category of people that suffered underrating, consequently contributing to role model shortage.

The academician cited other categories of underrepresented populations, including Caucasian males in the NBA, Jews in agriculture and Catholics in investment banking. Shifting his attention toward the subject of women in scientific fields, Summers stated that the reason for the gap was the same as that, which prevents women from filling executive posts in top-ranked professions. Therefore, unlike most newspaper reports indicated, the scholar cited familial responsibilities and commitment to careers as the primary reason for fewer women in science-based professions.

Summers cited research and his personal parenting as proof for this hypothesis. In making his second point, he further emphasized that gender differences observed even at a tender age, cannot be entirely attributed to socialization. This is where controversy sparked; since he went on to question whether institutions were making proper demands on people. This appeared to be an implication that society was imposing irrational expectations for women to perform equally in sciences, yet it is feat they cannot achieve because they are possibly biologically inferior to men.   This clearly shows that Summers downplayed the role that discrimination in denying women opportunities to advance in science and mathematics fields.    

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