Lawrence Summers Needs to Study Up on Some Women’s History–Here’s a Short Course He Should Take

~~By American Lassie

Barack Obama may be impressed by Lawrence Summers economics credentials, and I agree they are many, but his credentials as a human being leave a lot to be desired. But then, Obama is also a misogynist just like Summers and as they say, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Unfortunately, too many men fall into this category. These blathering boobs can’t accept that many women are more capable of doing many things as well or better than men.

Watching Lawrence Summers, the head of the White House’s National Economic Council at a press conference the other day, I couldn’t appreciate what he was saying because I was reminded of a speech he gave in January 2005 at a conference on “Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce” sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In his opinion there are more men than women in high-end science and engineering positions because women are not as willing to:

  • (1) Make commitments in time and flexibility demanded by high-powered jobs.
  • (2) That there were differences in the intrinsic abilities of men and women (more specifically men’s higher variance in aptitudes, abilities, or preferences relevant to science, engineering and mathematics).
  • (3) Discrepancy due to discrimination or socialization.

He stated that fewer girls than boys have high scores on math tests in late high school years.  That research in behavioral  genetics had shown that things people previously attributed to socialization weren’t due to socialization after all. Summers said that women do not have the same “innate ability” or “natural ability” as men in some fields.

In other words, Ladies, you are not as committed to a venture, nor as smart as a man.

Let’s see what Webster has to say about the definition of the reasons Summers gave:

  • (1) Commitment – dedication to a long time course of action – a pledge or promise to do something.
  • (2) Aptitude – an innate, acquired, learned or developed component of a competency, knowledge or understanding of work at a certain level.  Aptitudes may be physical or mental.
  • (3) Discrimination – discrimination toward or against a person or group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category other than individual merit. (In this case gender discrimination)

Summers is so far off base in respect to reasons #1 and #2 that he is certifiable.  As for reason #3 – discrimination – he is absolutely right.  Women have been, and are being, discriminated against in every field, and men like him are the worst offenders. Every time a woman strives to break the glass ceiling in any field, there is always a group of misogynists (some of them other women), ready to cut off her legs.

The list of accomplished women in the world is so long it would take forever to list them all. I would like to mention a few that might not be so well known to the average person.  Let’s start with one of my favorites and then go back to medieval times and work our way up to present day times.

GRACE HOPPER – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper – (Dec 9, 1906 – Jan 1, 1992)
Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist and a naval officer.
I first heard of Grace Hopper when I was in college, taking a course in computer programming, (Data Processing 154). This was the stone age days of data processing. We had to learn to write programs, to do flow charts, keypunch the command cards, and then run our programs in a gigantic monster of a computer that had to be kept in a very cold room. This process was zillions of miles away from today’s computers. If you punched the wrong digit you ruined your whole program, and it crashed.
My instructor was a part-time airline pilot who said that Grace Hopper had more guts and know-how than most of the pilots he knew. Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the field. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I calculator, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language.  Because of her accomplishments and naval rank she was sometimes called “Amazing Grace”.
Grace Hopper had a master’s degree in mathematics and physics from Yale,and she also had a PhD in mathematics from Yale. Her dissertation was titled  “New Types of Irreducibility Criteria”.  She taught mathematics at Vassar. (Assoc. Prof.)
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper served in the United States Navy  – 1943-1966,   1967-1971,  1972-1986.
Naval Officer, Mathematician, Computer Wizard ( she did the majority of the programming for the Navy during her years of service), and College Professor.  I would say that she had commitment and aptitude to spare.

HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES, SUMMERS? NOT WILLING TO MAKE A COMMITMENT?  NO ABILITIES? NO APTITUDE?
SUBSERVIENT TO MEN?  CRAWL BACK INTO YOUR HOLE, WORM.

In Medievel times we had ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE – Queen Consort of Louis VII of France and Henry II of England.The most powerful woman of 12th Century Europe. She accompanied Louis on the Second Crusade.  The mother of Richard I (Richard the Lionhearted), she was active in government – ruling the country during his crusade to the Holy Land and ransoming him from Austria.

COMMITMENT? APTITUDE? ADD BRAVERY AND COURAGE, SUMMERS.

Then we have –

ELIZABETH I, dedicated Queen of England.  I need not say much about her as she is well known and her rule of England is one of the most successful in the history of that country. Determined to keep England Protestant  –  this fact caused friction with—–
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS – cousin to and rival of Elizabeth.  She too, is well known having been named Queen of Scotland when she was but a few weeks old. A very beloved Queen, whose dedication to her Catholic religion caused her many enemies to use it against her.
Both these Queens were COMMITTED, to use Summer’s word. To this, you could add courage, bravery and of course discrimination was used against them.
JOAN OF ARC – A national heroine of France and a Catholic Saint, also known as “The Maid of Orleans”.  She led the French Army to several important victories during the Hundred Year’s War.

COMMITTED?  APTITUDE?  YOU TELL ME SUMMERS.

Let’s throw a few kudos to some American women who helped make this a country where misogynists like Summers are free to spill their bile.  Here are a few of what I call AMERICAN ATHENAS – Women in the American Revolution.  Athena in Greek mythology is the goddess of the practical arts, and warfare,and the protectress of cities – especially Athens.  Although these women were not learned in the arts of mathematics or science, their commitment cannot be questioned.

MARGARET CORBIN – a female participant in the war where the chief fighters were men. During the British attack on Fort Washington, Margaret maintained a vigil throughout the night. Her words – “Activated by the most glorious cause that mankind ever fought in, I am to defend this post to the very last extremity”
THE EDENTON TEA PARTY – Oct 1774 – Fifty one women signed PENELOPE BAKER‘S declaration to ban British imports.  Renounced drinking English tea & wearing clothes made of British cloth. They did not attempt to hide their identities and boldly signed their true names.
Paul Revere was not the only one to announce the British’s arrival.  SYBIL LUDINGTON rode through Connecticut yelling that the British were burning Danbury.  Due to her actions the British were halted in Ridgefield, Ct. on April 27, 1777 and were forced to retreat to Long Island Sound.
DEBORAH SAMPSON – put on men’s clothing and called herself “Robert Shirtliffe” and fought courageously. “His” company defeated marauding indians north of Ticonderoga.
The water carrier – MARY HAYS, otherwise known as “Molly Pitcher” took up arms after her husband fell.

And later on –

DR. MARY WALKER – A surgeon in the Civil War was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson.

Spanish American War nurse CLARA MAAS died as a result of yellow fever. Army Contract Nurse Maas volunteered in an experimental treatment program after having survived the war. A stamp was isssued in her honor in 1976.

On a lighter note, let’s take ANNIE OAKLEY – sharpshooter, wild west performer, advocate for women learning self-defense and also quite patriotic. Just before the Spanish-American War, Annie Oakley wrote to then President William McKinley and offered an unusual service.  Here is her letter to McKinley:

“Hon Wm. McKinley, President
Dear Sir
I for one feel confident that your good judgement will carry America safely through without war.  But in case of such an event I am ready to place a company of fifty lady sharpshooters at your disposal.Every one of them will be an American and as they will furnish their own arms and ammunition will be of little if any expense to the government.
Yours truly
Annie Oakley”

Miss Oakley’s original letter is in the National Archives.
When the U.S. was pulled into WWI she made the same offer.  Neither offer was accepted.

STUPID MEN RUNNING THINGS COULDN’T FATHOM THAT A WOMAN COULD BE SO COMMITTED.

During WWI over 30,000 women had served in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps , the Navy as Yeoman(F), the Marines, and the Coast Guard.  They served their country before they even were allowed to vote.

COMMITMENT, APTITUDE, AND DISCRIMINATION.

Moving along to more recent days, we have SALLY RIDE American physicist and former NASA astronaut who became the first American woman and youngest American (at that time) to enter outer space.

COMMITMENT, APTITUDE? TELL ME SUMMERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Other women with committment and aptitude who fought other kinds of battles for their countries include:
HILLARY CLINTON
SARAH PALIN
MARGARET THATCHER
INDIRA GHANDI
GOLDA MEIR
THE FEMALE MEMBERS OF THE FLIGHT CREW OF  FLIGHT 1549.

All these women showed great commitment to their beliefs and to their fellow human beings.

APTITUDE IS BOTH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL – THEIR APTITUDE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.  For these women their commitment and determination to improve their countries and their people’s lives is indisputable. And to the women in the crew of flight 1549 who kept their composure and helped organize the successful evacuation of the plane that went down in the Hudson River recently, I can only say “BRAVO.”  And kudos to their captain who made sure everyone knew of their bravery. Would we had more men like him. (Although I’m sure there are quite a few.)  We seldom hear about men praising women.  We usually hear from the blatant misogynists like Lawrence Summers.

Of course, there are many more committed women with exceptional abilities that I could not name here.  I just wanted to show that throughout history, from medievel times to now , women have carried their countries on their shoulders and it is wrong for anyone to try to put them in the back seat.

DO YOU GET IT MR. SUMMERS? YOU OWE THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD AND ESPECIALLY OF THIS COUNTRY AN APOLOGY.
WHEN I SEE HOW WOMEN ARE DEVALUED IN THIS COUNTRY I AM DISHEARTENED BEYOND BELIEF.

AT LEAST IN OTHER COUNTRIES WOMEN ARE ALLOWED TO RISE TO THE TOP IN POLITICS, BASED ON THEIR COMMITMENT AND ABILITY AND NOT ON THEIR PHYSICAL ANATOMY.

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10 Responses

  1. Go get em Lassie! Couldn’t agree more with all you wrote.

    How sad that it has to be written in the year 2009.

    Even sadder is that if Lawrence Summers had given a speech saying that AA hadn’t the innate abilities as whites or weren’t as committed he wouldn’t even be considered for the position he now holds. One more proof, as if we needed any, that racism is intolerable but misogyny is acceptable. At least in some circles.

    Not with me sistuh, never with me.

  2. Great list GRL. Of course you didn’t mention obvious women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought long and hard to win women the right to vote, Shirley Chisholm (the first black woman to run for President), Geraldine Ferraro (first woman on a national Presidential ticket), Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Abigail Adams, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Blackwell (first American woman awarded an M.D.), Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), Margaret Mead, Wilma Rudolph, Babe Didrickson Zaharias, Sojourner Truth, Helen Keller, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eileen Collins (first American woman to pilot a spacecraft), Amelia Earhart, Antonia Novello (first woman and first hispanic Surgeon General), Sacagawea, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught (USAF, Retired), Alice Paul, Margaret Bourke-White (photographer), and of course Victoria Woodhull – the first woman to run for President of the U.S. in 1870!

    The list goes on and on, and if that jackass Summers would bother to think with his big head, he might just realize that claiming women to be biologically inferior to men is as antiquated and downright asinine as claiming whites are smarter or better than any other race. Mr. Summers, you are a dinosaur and will eventually be extinct. In the interim, I hope your mother, wife, and any other females in your life all slap you “upside the head” on a daily basis. But I doubt it will do any good.

  3. Nothing Barack Obama has done offends me more than his appointment of Larry Summers. That, to me, was a shot across the bow for women…a clear statement of his true feelings about females.

    Men are to be given credence and responsibility. Women are to be manipulated when possible and marginalized when not. See Clinton, Hillary.

  4. Now I am truly disheartened. It is apparent from your blog that women have always been there, shoulder to shoulder, with the men. And yet, for all our apparent “progress”, we women have simply been elevated in status from field to house slave.

  5. Grail….that’s American Lassie’s rundown of some of the great women of history, not mine!

    I have vol. 1 of a 2 part set called “A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present” by Bonnie S. Anderson and Judith P. Zinsser originally published by Harper & Row in 1988, paperback in 1989.

    Maybe I’ll start dipping into it and doing some little squibs on women of note. The book, of course, also details the live of “ordinary” women in day-to-to day life. The chapter on “The Effects of Christianity” is brilliant.

  6. Sorry – I misread, A.L. Great post!

  7. Grail,

    I think Lassie was just trying to give some attention to the many women who are not very well known, and in many cases, not mentioned in any other writings, who dedicated their time, and in some instances their lives,
    to the service of their country and humanity.

    There are so many more deserving women that it would take a book, or a set of books, as IA mentions, to write about them all. The better known women, like
    Elizabeth Blackwell for instance, have been written up many times, but the everyday woman who helped this country in times of need are often overlooked.

    I realize that Larry Summers has his defenders, but I’m certainly not one of them. His education and expertise in economics does not give him a pass when he demeans women, His WIRM (what I really meant) is too close to Obama’s WORM, IMO. The best thing that he ever did was resign from his position at Harvard, albeit it was under pressure.

  8. Sorry I had to bump your post, Lee…however, it’s doing great!

    I only got the Alert this AM in my box!!!

    And it’s scary as hell!

  9. Indeed, IA it is scary as hell. I only hope that enough people are alerted in time to make a difference. If I had a horse, I’d get on it, strap myself in, and ride as far as the horse and I could go, yelling as Sybil Ludington did. Only I’d be yelling —-

    WAKE UP FOLKS THEY’RE BURNING THE CONSTITUTION AND TAKING US DOWN THE ROAD TO PERDITION.

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