Sunday, November 9, 2008

Whoa whoa whoa just a minute here...

Young Female Scientist clued me in to the discussion about Obama appointing Larry Summers as Treasury Secretary.

This is so disturbing to me! I used to work with Project Exploration, a non-profit promoting the involvement of inner city kids in science, particularly through Sisters for Science where I did after school presentations for girls and just generally hung out at retreats and such as an example of a woman in science. (More clues for those of you interested in who I am). The Obamas were strong supporters of the program, and I know at least Michelle attended one of the big fundraising events for PE over the last few years. They have smart, with-it young daughters, and I bet it would really piss them both off to know that this guy might think their daughters might just be inherently not smart enough to be whoever and whatever they want to be.

9 comments:

Ambivalent Academic said...

Holy crap! This is WAY off topic, but you don't have a contact email on your page so I didn't know where else to leave this.

I just read your "Big Picture" post and I REALLY LIKE THE WAY YOU THINK! You're awesome, really. I've never been all that into chemistry but you make it sound so cool. Can I work for you when I graduate? ;)

Arlenna said...

Hahaha thanks! Yeah I suppose I should put one up there, it's easy to make a gmail account with my pseudonym.

Hey, I love biology post-docs! :D Definitely keep in touch as things move along for you.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Yeah, Summers is a fucking asshole. The thing you gotta realize about Obama is that he considers himself a pragmatic centrist, and will probably serve that way as president. The idea that he is some kind of left-wing liberal is totally fucking delusional.

Massimo aka Okham said...

Larry Summers' tenure at Harvard was disgraceful (let's not forget the way he treated Cornell West, even before he made his infamous remarks about women in science).
But, he's not being considered for the position of science advisor or anything having to do with equal opportunity. He did serve as secretary of treasury under Clinton, and my impression is that he did all right in that function. One of the worst things about the outgoing administration is that it did exactly the opposite, namely it consistently appointed incompetent people to key positions exclusively because of ideological reasons.

In general, I also think that, at least in his first term, Obama will govern as a centrist, primarily not to end up embattled like Clinton after his first two years of presidency. Still, good things will hopefully happen, starting with stem cell research and energy policy. I am also hoping for a ban on verification letters...

Arlenna said...

I don't see how ensuring that one's administration isn't made up of people who think girls are dumber than boys is a leftist property...

I don't think it is just idealism. It's also about putting your money where your mouth is.

Massimo aka Okham said...

Arlenna, the second part of my post was not in reference specifically to Summers.
I think his appointment is being considered (I don't think it has been formally made yet) for his specific competence in economic and financial matters. Again, he's not appointed to science advisor. He was already secretary of treasury under Clinton, and did not make national headlines back then. In fact, my impression is that he did all right (I could be wrong).

Maybe it's me but, in a world where perfection does not exist, I would rather have someone who is at least competent, even though some of his views on other matters are distasteful, as opposed to someone else appointed exclusively for his ideological loyalty (one of those who do a "heckuva job"...).

happy cat says whaaaat said...

I share your concerns; Obama’s new website allows you to leave suggestions, so I left one under his section on Women’s issues saying that I felt it would be giving the wrong message to put someone like Larry Summers in his cabinet. I didn’t expect to make a difference on my own but felt I had to say something. If enough of us respectfully express our opinions, maybe we can, though (I mean, that is the spirit of this campaign, right?):

website

place to leave comment

Arlenna said...

I left a comment on his website too.

Yes Okham, I know what you mean--but in a case where there are a number of qualified applicants, I want to see the preference get shifted away from someone with these viewpoints not out of idealogical loyalty but out of the commitment to disagree with those viewpoints. Like a backwards kind of affirmative action: if everyone is equally qualified for the position, choose the person who is the most non-bigoted (rather than the most female or the most underrepresented). This guy's previously professed opinions and agendas put him towards the wrong end of that scale.

Massimo aka Okham said...

Arlenna, I agree with you. I am amazed that, with all the excellent economists that are around, Obama could not find anyone other than this guy. But I am sure that he realizes that, just like I am sure that at some point he'll get an earful from Cornell West as well -- talk about fair treatment of african american faculty.
All I can say is -- the man (Obama) is not an idiot. I am sure he is fully aware of the negative implications of such an appointment, and I (want to) think that if he's going forward with it, he must have his own (hopefully good) reasons...