Harvard man says genes prevent women suceeding in engineering and science

The president of Harvard University has provoked outrage in the US after arguing that women do not get top jobs in science and engineering because of their genetic makeup.

Larry Summers made the comments at a conference about the position of women and minorities in science and engineering . He also said that a lack of women in top posts could be attributed to their working fewer hours than men because of their child care responsibilities.

Summers has now said that he was only trying to stimulate debate by saying women have less “innate ability” and that his comments were based on the research of others.

In October last year, UK trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt announced a drive to help women who want to work in male-dominated sectors such as IT, construction, engineering and science.

“It is not the Government’s job to dictate employment options to people, but we must give women more choice if we are to address the chronic pay gap,” she said.

“There are many women who want to get into science or manufacturing jobs, but are put off by the macho, male-dominated image, and the misconception that a woman simply couldn’t do the job,” she added.

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