Samuelson on Women in Science

BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson has up an interesting talk on women in science. The talk is relevant (and somewhat inspired by) the controversial talk by Harvard President Summers regarding women in science. I’m sure you all heard that discussion ad nauseam. So I’ll not repeat it. What makes Pres. Samuelson’s talk so interesting to a Mormon audience is the discussion of the proclamation on the family.

By the way, I have not read anything in the Proclamation that makes any statements about math, science, or engineering. I’m candidly nervous when I hear well-meaning people make extrapolations from the scriptures or from the statements of the prophets and then seem to feel authorized to tell the rest of us what the prophets really meant, had they only been wise enough to say it clearly. When anyone says more than the scriptures or the prophets have said on a particular doctrine, principle or practice, I consider them to be on dangerous ground.

It’s wise counsel we ought all keep in mind.

7 thoughts on “Samuelson on Women in Science

  1. I also like how he emphasized the importance of keeping the ideal fixed in our mind. Being tolerant of “alternative” family arrangments does not preclude having an ideal to shoot for.

    I also like Pres. Samuelson’s discussion of correctly recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost, and his counsel (from Elder Maxwell) to not run faster than we have “strength and means”.

    Thanks for the great link!

  2. That’s one of the most inspiring talks I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for linking it.

  3. I liked the talk, too.

    However, I was annoyed by this part:

    I feel a little, but only a little, sorry for my friend at Harvard, President Larry Summers, because not only is he politically incorrect, he does not have a clear knowledge of the Restored Gospel. Had he this understanding, in my estimation, he would not have made the foolish mistake he made when he said the silly things about women and their aptitudes. I will not say more because I am sure that this group understands exactly what I am talking about.

    First of all, I really dislike the arrogant and self-righteous tone.

    More important, what the heck is he talking about? I’m not aware of any church doctrine that rules out what Summers suggested (i.e. that the variance in the distribution of some talents and abilities as observed in this life differs between men and women). And if Samuelson had instead publicly espoused the ideas in the Proclamation, he’d be in a lot more trouble than he is now.

  4. huh???

    Perhaps Pres. Samuelson understood Summers’ remarks based only on the media’s reporting of such, since I’m certain he was not present at the gathering where the remarks were made. Summer’s remarks have been portrayed as being very politically incorrect and obtuse. Samuelson calling those remarks “silly” pales in comparison to some of the treatment Summers has received.

    I have gathered that Summers’ remarks were not that bad, but with the media’s constant search for sensationalism and controversy, has made a mountain out of a mole hill. I understand that Summers even qualified his remarks about the gender disparity in hard sciences with statements such as “I hope I am wrong about this”.

    Nevertheless, Summers was very un-PC, and for a man with a large public profile, to make such remarks can easily be considered foolish, or at the least, short-sighted.

    So, I don’t have any sense of Pres. Samuelson being arrogant or self-righteous.

    But, I am REALLY confused by the suggestion that Samuelson soft-pedaled the Proclamation, and if he had been more “true” to the ideas in the Proclamation, he’d be in a lot of trouble.

    How does the Proclamation create controversy for women in hard sciences? Wasn’t his purpose to expressly show that the Proclamation is not inconsistent with women earning advanced degrees in math and science?

  5. oops…Kevin is correct. I did mean “Summers” in the last sentence.

    Maybe saying Samuelson is arrogant is too strong, but his statement seems smug and condescending to me. (BTW, I’m not saying I agree with Summers.)

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