Opinion: Columnists

Larry Summers for Federal Reserve Chairman

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Fed chair Ben Bernanke's term will end in January 2014, and President Obama is seeking a successor. The choice is crucial, because unwinding the Fed's accommodative monetary policy without plunging the country into inflation is no easy task.

Candidates include former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, former Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, and Harvard University economics professor Larry Summers.

Summers' resume includes Secretary of the Treasury, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, director of the White House National Economic Council, chief economist of the World Bank, and president of Harvard University. He has written hundreds of peer-reviewed articles on different aspects of economic policy and is eminently qualified to step into Bernanke's shoes.

Summers will also be able to lecture Congress and the president on what needs to be done to spur economic growth, thereby giving the Fed more leeway to dial back on its purchases of bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

But feminists don't like Summers because in January 2005, he gave an off-the-record speech suggesting that innate biological differences, combined with family preferences, might explain why fewer women succeed in math and science.

Feminists prefer to believe that discrimination holds women back and have been out to get Summers ever since. As a result of the speech, Summers resigned as president of Harvard.

It may be politically incorrect to say so, but yes, there are innate biological differences between men and women, and a substantial literature showing that, compared to women, there are more very smart men and more very dumb men.

That's why we see more male Nobel Prize winners, and more men in jail, drunk, and on drugs.

Data show that males score higher on quantitative tests, the skill needed for math and science. In 2012, boys averaged higher on the SAT math portion, scoring an average of 532 versus 499. Girls averaged higher on the writing portion, with a score of 494 compared to 481 for males.

In the 2012 Graduate Record Examinations, men performed better on quantitative reasoning, with an average of 154 versus 149. Women scored better on writing.

These data are consistent with a series of studies by the Educational Testing Service, which collects decades of data on male and female scores.

Irrespective of innate ability, top professorships in science and math require substantial commitment, and more women prefer flexible schedules to combine work with family.

Single women aren't forced to devote time to families, and unmarried childless women's salaries often exceed men's. Unmarried and childless women between the ages of 35 and 43 earn 108 cents on a man's dollar.

But married women with children living with spouses earn less, about 77 percent of what men make, according to Labor Department data.

The home page of the Yale Law Women Web site, the site for female law students at Yale Law School, features an annual Top Ten Family Friendly Firms List.

Why aren't Yale women going after the Top Ten Firms in Compensation? Friendly firm policies are those that allow children to be combined with a professional career, generally with fewer hours for women. Fewer hours means less pay. If some of the brightest young women in the country, those with the greatest earnings potential, are looking for family friendly firms, no one should be surprised that women earn less.

Summers has many qualifications to be Fed chief. Obama should not allow feminists to block Summers because he told the truth about women in the workforce in 2005. Obama needs someone to tell the truth about economic growth and monetary policy in 2014.

DIANA FURCHTGOTT-ROTH, a Washington Examiner columnist (dfr@manhattan-institute.org) and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

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