Opinion column: Harvard-schmarvard

By Angela Loiacono

I always thought Harvard University was a well-established academic institution, which also led me to believe its faculty was extraordinary. That was until I found that Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard, felt the need to say that intrinsic differences in ability keeps many women out of high-level jobs in science. I’m really struggling with this topic. Why is it so hard for everyone to understand that women can do anything men can do – if not better?

The AP said Summers was put to a vote on Tuesday that reflected the faculty’s confidence, or lack thereof, in his management and authority. Unfortunately for him, a 218-185 vote displayed the faculty’s displeasure in Summers. At least the faculty agrees with me.

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In this unprecedented and extremely symbolic vote, Summers basically comes out looking like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – because he doesn’t. I’ve lost so much respect for Harvard University as an institution just because of this one man. One would expect a high academic authority to have the intelligence not to question the abilities of women.

I’m so very tired of men honestly believing that they can do everything better than women. It’s just not true. And although Summers has since apologized for his biased comments, he obviously runs his position of authority with that sentiment in mind. It was not only his comments that were under a vote, but also his managerial actions. But I’m not sure who in their right mind wouldn’t question his authoritative position after he degraded the abilities of women. Both men and women alike should be offended.

For the life of me I can’t understand why so many people are stuck in a time continuum. Sure, back in the twenties women were housewives and very little more. But when are people going to wake up and see how far women have come and how much they have and will continue to accomplish? This isn’t a hard concept to grasp. Women are not only capable, but also willing and determined to make a name for themselves.

Did Summers ever think that maybe there aren’t as many women holding high-level jobs in science because there are arrogant men like him keeping them out of such disciplines? If the person in charge of hiring doesn’t feel women are up to par, then they aren’t going to get the position. And while that thought makes me sick to my stomach, I don’t doubt that this is the case across the nation in all sorts of careers.

Women have been proving themselves as valuable assets to various jobs for years. And while I might have to join the exodus and move to Canada if Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the first woman president, it doesn’t mean I don’t recognize how far women have come. Even the thought of a woman president was unheard of years ago, and now rumors of Condoleeza Rice’s presidential thoughts are circulating. I don’t understand how much women have to do before they are recognized as equal to men.

Putting aside Harvard University and the outrageous comments of Summers, there are a great deal of people who need to wake up to the twenty-first century. We no longer live in a world where men go to school and women stay home to do the laundry and wash the floor. Everyone needs to respect women for the accomplishments they have made and stop setting them farther back. With every ridiculous comment made by a higher authority, women are forced to climb over a higher barrier to achieve what men have the opportunity to do every day.

All I’m asking is that people really think about where the world would be without the contributions of women. The next generation of women coming out of this University shouldn’t have to face a bias in the working world because some man doesn’t think they are intrinsically capable.