Summers of Our Discontent

13 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2005

See all articles by Phyllis Goldfarb

Phyllis Goldfarb

George Washington University Law School


This essay analyzes the transcript of Lawrence Summers' remarks to the January 14 Conference on Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce. The purpose of a close textual analysis is to develop understanding of the firestorm unleashed by Summers' remarks. Which aspects of his remarks were so incendiary and what can be learned from them?

In particular, the essay explores possible sources of Summers' stated hypotheses about gender differences that contribute to women's underrepresentation in certain fields. It also explores the material consequences of these hypotheses in women's lives to highlight the interconnection between such beliefs and discriminatory behavior. The overall goal of this analysis is to contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of the relationships between gender, culture, and work and to promote a responsible approach to both diversity discourse and diversity itself.

Keywords: Lawrence Summers, Harvard, Gender roles, employment discrimination, diversity in the workplace

Suggested Citation

Goldfarb, Phyllis, Summers of Our Discontent. Available at SSRN:

Phyllis Goldfarb (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202.994.7463 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics