Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed interviews Cornell profs Stephen J. Ceci (developmental psychology) and Wendy M. Williams (human development), coeditors of Why Aren’t More Women in Science?: Top Researchers Debate the Evidence. The background, of course, is the controversy over Harvard president Larry Summers’s suggestion that biology might play some part in women’s underrepresentation in science.

Ceci and Williams: “For us, the worrisome aspect of the debate was not so much its substance as its tone. Defenders of Summer’s remarks were vilified and dismissed. This does not serve the purpose of science — it led to muzzling of the scholarly debate, with one side effectively silenced by the other. When we first sent out invitations to contribute essays to our book, we were saddened by the stories of some scholars who felt that they could not contribute because their views were scorned, and had resulted in personal attacks against them on their campuses.  If you read between the lines of several of the essays, you will detect this theme even among those who did contribute essays.”

BTW, the editors’ own position is nuanced. They write, “The story is complex and not apt to be reducible to single factors.”