Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard University has taken a good lambasting this week for remarks he made about female proficiency with math and science. But is this really justified? From what I understand he was just trying to start some discussion. Well, let's continue it, shall we?
Dr. Summers cited research showing that more high school boys than girls tend to score at very high and very low levels on standardized math tests, and that it was important to consider the possibility that such differences may stem from biological differences between the sexes.
-Dillon, Sam. "Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women." NY Times 18 Jan 2005.
Music has been shown to have an advantageous effect on the mathematical ability of its hearers. If math and music utilize related cognitive function, maybe the differences Summers cites are also responsible for why women make such lousy composers.
I mean lets face it: Amy Cheney Beach, Elizabeth Jaquet de la Guerre, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Clara Schuman just don't cut it. Don't forget Barbara Strozzi. She's no good either. I don't think I've even met any women who like Barbara Strozzi.
The only women composers I really like to listen to are Lili Boulanger, Hildegard von Bingen, Meredith Monk, Joan Tower, and Ellen Zwillich.
This morning I heard about Dame Ethel Smyth, but she was presented as being remarkable not for being good, just for being weird. Nevertheless, I still want to hear what she wrote.
Tangents: Yes, I realize that this approach alienates more than half of the U.S. population. Maybe Larry and I need to move to Nevada.
Does Wendy Carlos count as a female composer?
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