March 22, 2005

Who Are These Women?

Christina Hoff Sommers provides some context for the quotes being published about Harvard President Lawrence Summers' remarks and the Harvard faculty hissy fit that has followed. Here's an excerpt from Who Stole Harvard?

The press has widely reported on the overreaction Nancy Hopkins, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologist and feminist activist who says she almost became physically ill. What many press stories fail to mention is that this is not the first time Professor Hopkins had been offended by perceived sexism.

In the late 1990s, she accused MIT of bias against herself and several of her female colleagues. Instead of bringing in objective outsiders to evaluate her complaints, MIT put Hopkins herself in charge of investigating her own charges. She spearheaded a gender-bias study that concluded — surprise, surprise — that there was insidious bias against women at MIT. The study proved to be a travesty. It was altogether unscientific. Hopkins and her co-investigators did not produce any hard data. Most of the "evidence" came in the form of anecdotes about hurt feelings and perceptions of invisibility and discomfort. One critic aptly described the study as part of the dubious legacy of postmodernism: "evidence-free, feelings-based research." In 1999, The Chronicle of Higher Education called Professor Hopkins the "poster child for gender bias," and said that that she had done for sex discrimination what Anita Hill did for sexual harassment. MIT met all of her demands; she was invited to speak on campuses around the country; the Ford Foundation donated a million dollars to her cause, and she was treated like a heroine by the Clinton White House.

Posted by dan at March 22, 2005 5:09 PM