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Was the MIT report wrong?

SLF notmyaddress at hotmail.com
Thu Feb 8 08:05:15 EST 2001

>From the Chronicle of Higher Education front page:
>Report questions methodology and conclusions of  M.I.T.
>gender-discrimination study

>The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has acted hastily to
>redress gender discrimination that may not have even existed,
>according to  a report published this month by a nonprofit
>women's group that looks  critically at claims of bias.

This refers to a report by the Indpendent Women's Forum
(http://www.iwf.org/), a conservative antifeminist group:

>The Mission of the Independent Women's Forum is to
> affirm women's participation in and contributions to a free,
>  self-governing society.
>The Independent Women's Forum speaks for those who:
> Believe in individual liberty and responsibility
> for self-governance, the superiority of the market economy, and the
>  imperative of equal opportunity for all.
> Respect and appreciate the differences between,
> and the complementary nature of, the two sexes.
>Affirm the family as the foundation of society.
>Believe women are capable of defining and
> asserting their interests and concerns in private and public life,
> and reject the  false view that women are the victims of
> oppression.
>Believe political differences are best resolved
> at the ballot box, and therefore oppose court imposition of what the
> democratic process rejects.
> Endorse individual recognition and reward based
> on work and merit, without regard to group membership or

Ever noticed how the hard right appropriates the words
"liberty"  (except when it applies to your personal life--
in which case they have no problem with government

Their report looks at productivity of MIT biology faculty broken down
by men vs. women and time at rank, and says that the women are less
productive.  (http://www.iwf.org/news/mitfinal.pdf)

They say,
> At the same time, we found compelling differences in productivity,
> influence, and grant funding between the more senior males and
> females that we studied. These differences may well have contributed
> to differences in working conditions alluded to in the MIT gender
> study. However, few would likely question the fairness of rewarding
> those who publish more widely, aremost frequently cited, or raise the
> most in grant funds. It is also possible that some scientists have
> more resources not because of their sex, but because they need them
> to honor the terms of their research grants.

Excuse me?  What does "honor the terms of their research grants" mean?

> Because MIT will not
> disclose the data on which its report is based, we have no way to
> judge whether its allocation of resources is consistent with these
> results. Nonetheless, if nontrivial differences in salary and working
> conditions exist among its male and female biologists, sex
> discrimination is obviously not the only credible explanation.
> Moreover, differences in resource allocation can be found in academic
> departments that are primarily female and are probably nothing more
> than random occurrences.

basically they ignore the causality. Are the women less productive
because they have less space and fewer resources, or do they have
fewer resources because they are less productive?

If you have two aspiring stockbrokers, and give one a stake of
$10,000 and one a stake of $1000, and come back in a month, who
will have more?  Does that mean he's a better stockbroker?

This same group published another critique of the MIT report
from Judith Kleinfeld, one of the very prominent anti-feminist
critics.  You can read more about her in this revealing
article from the Chronicle last year:

Dr Kleinfeld's main concern with MIT was that they chose not
to publicize their salary data!   Here's a quote from that article:

>Ms. Kleinfeld doesn't believe that the M.I.T. women collected
>any data at all. The  institute, she says, merely chose to recognize
>that they were unhappy. To avoid more
 >problems, she reasons, it paid them off.

Inotherwords, Nancy Hopkins is a liar.

Expect more of these attacks, with a Bush in the White House.

DON'T REPLY to the email address in header.
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S L Forsburg, PhD  Associate Professor
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA

Women in Biology Internet Launch Page
"These are my opinions.  I don't have
time to speak for anyone else."


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