Saturday, June 25, 2005

Larry Summers, Meet Mongolia

Remember that flap over Harvard's president, Larry Summers, suggesting that there may be a genetic reason for women not having proportionate representation in academic and business circles? Well, in Mongolia, the gender gap looks to be going the other direction. I found it over at Gene Expressions. A snippet:
The preference [in Mongolia] to send daughters to college has led to what the United
Nations calls a "reverse gender gap" -- women now make up 60 percent of all students at Mongolian universities. The trend is particularly distinctive because Asia is typically considered a place where women are less valued than men.

"It's just the opposite of much of Asia. Arab and Asian students in other countries often don't believe" that this could happen, says Solongo Algaa, a demographer at the National University of Mongolia,who studies the phenomenon.

Women also perform better than men at places like National University of Mongolia, says Davaa Suren, the university's vice president. Looking over the scores on a recent entrance exam in the Mongolia-language department, he notes that 8 of the top 10 students are women. In economics, women are 7 of the top 10 students; in
science departments, women account for about half of the top 10. He shrugs when asked why the gap exists: "Perhaps women are more hard-working."

Make of it what you will.


Anonymous troll said...

I think Summers was given the third degree for his speculation that the lack of female representation in science/tech fields may be due to male/female difference in the aptitude for science. The figures you listed seems to support Summers' speculation rather than discrediting it.

Regardless, it's interesting to know that Mongolia provides some evidence that discrepancy in academic success between sexes are generally due to opportunitiy/encouragement/etc. Generalizations/stereotypes go both ways. :-)

Btw, doesn't a similar trend hold in Iran, also?

6/26/2005 3:09 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Troll, I actually could see myself agreeing with Summers (I read his speech a few days after he gave it). My point in this post, however, wasn't really to comment on Summers or his opinions. Rather, it was to point out an interesting trend in Mongolian higher education.

I'd be interested to hear more about Iran, though.

6/26/2005 10:32 PM  
Blogger Jaruul said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/28/2005 4:26 PM  
Blogger Jaruul said...

Summers is absolutely right. In Mongolia we do encourage female education. As well traditionally females do have strong rights and voice in any family decision making. 70 % of office employees are females in Mongolia, not just in secretarial roles, as well in management positions. Unfortunately, we do not have enough female representation in our parliament.

6/28/2005 4:33 PM  
Anonymous troll said...


Yes, Summers' speech was not the main point, but you did invite such comments by titling the article as such.

As for Iran, it's a little snippet I read in the Economist a while back after Shirin Ebadi, a female Iranian lawyer, was awarded the Nobel peace prize. Here's the link (i had to break it into two lines - hope it works):

I confess that I've never had the privilege of visiting Iran and possess no deep (or even shallow) understanding/knowledge of Iranian society.

Anyway, it's interesting to read that Mongolia is bucking the trend (in other places). Further, it seems (from your article and Jaruul's comment) the women put their education to good use, unlike in Iran.


Any reason why females, despite the education level, are underrepresented in the parliament?

7/01/2005 3:33 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Troll, you're right of course. I'll be more careful with my headlines in the future. Nothing like the blogosphere to keep one honest :)

Thanks for the link re: Iran.

I'm also interested to see what my co-blogger Mongol might have to say about this topic.

7/02/2005 10:09 AM  
Blogger samraat said...

4/04/2010 10:21 PM  

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