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Jay Currie

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7/19/2005

Men, Women and Math

I enjoy reading about mathematics and I can even do elementary statistics. But, from the time I was a kid I recognized that there were other kids whose intuitive "feel" for numbers and the relationships of abstract qualities left mine in the dust.

Larry Summers, the President of Harvard, got into big trouble a while ago for suggesting,

"It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined."
Oops!

Now La Griffe du Lion does the math:
The mathematics results revealed a mean (male-female) difference of 0.12 standard deviations2 and a 1.20 (male/female) variance ratio.
La Griffe du Lion
The thing of it is that the male female performance differences don't matter much at the level most of us function at; but Harvard math profs tend to be at the very top of the profession which puts them at the extreme right hand side of the distribution.

Go read La Griffe du Lion...Summers had nothing to appologize for.