In your face, Larry Summers

Stanford marks the first anniversary of the Harvard president's sexist speech by holding a conference on women in math.

Published February 8, 2006 10:08PM (EST)

Tuesday was the anniversary of Harvard prez Larry Summers' infamous speculation that the lack of women in high-level math and science positions might be due to innate differences between the sexes. To mark the occasion, Stanford's Institute for Research on Women and Gender held a conference on the topic of women's left-brain abilities, wittily titled "Proof and Prejudice: Women in Mathematics." The event schedule featured screenings of "Proof" and a documentary on Berkeley mathematician Julia Robinson, as well as panel discussions on "the experiences of women mathematicians, the barriers to women in math, and math culture in general," with participation from requisite celebrity mathematician Danica McKellar.

The sultry head shots of McKellar on the conference's promotional materials -- which seem to remind that even when they do math, women are pretty -- detract somewhat from the conference's noble message. Still, props to Stanford for putting Summers' statements on its calendar and following up with actual inquiry into women's experiences in a male-dominated field.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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