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Larry Summers Is Not the Change I Was Expecting

By Veronica Arreola  Posted by Rady Ananda (about the submitter)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
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Headlined to H2 11/10/08

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As President-elect Obama moves quickly to assemble his team, women leaders monitoring his choices have put up a red alert about a reported short-list choice as secretary of the Treasury.  Veronica Arreola, an educator and advocate for women in the sciences, explains why.

I am the president of the Larry Summers fan club.  As the director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, you might find that odd.

After his infamous statement in 2005 that women and girls had an intrinsic handicap towards math, explaining my job was a moot point.  Everyone in my circle of friends and around the country knew the importance of running an academic support program for women majoring in science and engineering at a research institution.  Despite the fact that women are going to college in record numbers and increasingly majoring in sciences, there are still those out in the world who think women just can’t hack it in the end.  It also was an easier sell to donors and funders about the importance of the WISE office and our mission. So thank you, Larry for making my case so eloquently.

After his departure from the Harvard presidency he faded from the limelight. This week his name, along with New York Federal Reserve Chairman Timothy Geithner, has been bandied about as secretary of the treasury in the incoming Obama administration (can I just say how amazing it is to say that? The Obama administration!). Could the man who sold America on change seriously be considering appointing a man who suggested that Malia, Sasha and all of our daughters have a genetic disposition from not being able to math? Sadly yes.

As the head of the U.S. Treasury, Larry Summers would be in charge of advising on economic and tax policy in this country and abroad.  This is a man who believes that women’s inability to do math has MORE impact on the lack of women in science and engineering than discrimination.  The lack of women in science and engineering is important to our economy in at least two ways.  First, our country is sorely in need of scientists and engineers. The fact that women represent just 12 percent of the science and engineering workforce (cited from Obama’s Change.gov website) means that we are underutilizing women’s skills in this area—a fact that Summers just might take issue with because you know, we can’t do math.

Second, science and engineering fields have some of the lowest wage gaps and engineering women earn 95 cents to a man’s dollar. Equal pay was a cornerstone of the Obama campaign and is on his Women’s Agenda.  Discrimination has been reduced, but it is still a factor in why women only earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar and as low as 52 cents for women of color. In order to turn this economy around and allow everyone to participate and benefit, we must have someone in charge of the economy who understands how women are affected in the market and work place.

Even without his appointment, Larry Summers is a top advisor to President-elect Obama and that is troubling in itself.  When I think about who I want at the president-elect’s ear on economic issues, I do not picture a person who scoffs at discrimination, who suggests that Africa is under-polluted, or says that using sweatshop labor in Asia is justified.  Is that the type of change we want to see in the next administration?  We don’t want to feel as though we could have saved ourselves the heartbreak and voted for John “All women need is more training for fair pay” McCain.

President-elect Obama has a lot of work ahead to sell me and my colleagues on Summers.

Veronica Arreola is the assistant director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender and the director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, her alma mater. Arreola spent five years with the Chicago chapter of NOW as treasurer, choice chairperson, and ultimately vice-president. She also served on the National NOW board. A veteran blogger, she helped launch the Planned Parenthood Action Illinois blog in 2007. Arreola was named UIC's 2007 Woman of the Year by the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Women for her professional and volunteer activities on and off campus. Today she is a featured blogger at Work it, Mom!, WIMNs Voices, and Chicago Parent. Her writing has been featured in b*tch magazine and RH Reality Check. She is also a WMC Progressive Women’s Voices participant.

Posted for The Women’s Media Center.

 

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to argue against Summers.  He advocated shipp... by ed kriner on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 10:43:51 AM
Summers is a red-herring, I think...The treasury s... by scott creighton on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 11:03:29 AM
Even before he was elected Obama was slapping us i... by Mr M on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 11:13:55 AM
He can expect that at least one blogger will scrut... by Richard Volaar on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 11:36:30 AM
Summers is a jerk and his appointment  h... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 12:05:34 PM
This is an interesting observation.  I found ... by WML on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:10:44 PM
I am sorry but I disagree with the statement  ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:23:33 PM
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? N... by kato krause on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 12:13:07 PM
it's a myth that men are better at math than women... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:01:02 PM
I did not write that women are worse in math than ... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:40:38 PM
sometimes this system doesn't allow me to resp... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 5:59:44 PM
I've posted this a dozen times and in all ten ... by Mr M on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:42:25 PM
That men and women are different, but similiar?&nb... by Richard Volaar on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:16:49 PM
"dozen" "ten" - get it? ha-ha ... by Mr M on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:01:23 PM
... proved a point, somehow. I guess. Maybe.... by scott creighton on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:29:39 PM
...so I write alot to compensate for my feelings o... by Richard Volaar on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 8:15:57 PM
That men and women are different, but similiar?&nb... by Richard Volaar on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:17:19 PM
but like Battered Wife Syndrome, progressives rush... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:10:32 PM
"...never lied about his positions"(firs... by scott creighton on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:49:56 PM
I was going by his voting record, not his rhetoric... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 5:47:05 PM
I just read that O is pressing Reid to let Lieberm... by scott creighton on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 6:12:51 PM
committee. I got "cabinet posts" on the ... by scott creighton on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 6:15:37 PM
As one of the first attorneys to use the battered ... by WML on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:38:58 PM
are we gonna let the progressives off the hook for... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 7:22:12 PM
battered Progressive syndrome.... by Jim Eldon on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:58:32 PM
battered Progressive syndrome. It's the progre... by Jim Eldon on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 3:04:49 PM
to your article?  I'd like to read it.... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 6:03:03 PM
Skinning the Cat; Time To ReFrame Some Progressive... by Jim Eldon on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 7:37:47 PM
yes, excellent post, Jim.  and I really loved... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 7:45:38 PM
Supporting Democrats is a serious political disord... by coyote on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 2:55:29 PM
that voting Democrat is NOT in their best interest... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 6:08:12 PM
If you ever find the answer to how to get progress... by Michael Cavlan on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 12:43:51 AM
I am a woman who has always struggled with math.&n... by jersey girl on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 5:41:50 PM
lol.. thanks for your comment... I do love math, b... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 5:51:30 PM
"I just read a study that said lesbians and s... by jersey girl on Monday, Nov 10, 2008 at 7:39:01 PM
As someone who works as an advocate for women in s... by reasonableperson on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 12:51:55 AM
30 years in Engineering, PhD, PE.  I absolute... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 7:52:16 AM
Mark, I’ve read your comments before and... by reasonableperson on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 8:29:42 PM
This piece on Summers was aimed at the 2% of count... by Steven Leser on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 10:46:44 AM
This piece on Summers was aimed at the 2% of count... by reasonableperson on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 8:04:12 PM