While speaking at an event, Summers stated that males are intrinsically smarter than females in science and engineering.
Back the truck up. Summers didn't say that. The link within that sentence, which links to another LiveScience report, says:
In a letter from Summers days after his controversial statements, he wrote: "Despite reports to the contrary, I did not say, and I do not believe, that girls are intellectually less able than boys, or that women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of science."
So what's the story? What did Summers actually say? And why would the LiveScience stories contradict each other?
Oddly enough, four years on I can't seem to find an exact quote. What I remember, though, was that Summers, speaking relatively extemporaneously, suggested that researchers should study whether or not there might be innate differences between the sexes. Here's the closest I could find, from the Harvard Crimson:
Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers has triggered criticism by telling an economics conference Friday that the under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate" differences between men and women...Perhaps it's just becoming part of the public consciousness that Summers stated categorically that women are inferior to men in the fields of math and science, but I'd like to think the press could be a little more honest, or perhaps just a little more accurate, in how it reports such things. What do they teach in journalism school anymore, anyway?
Summers spoke from a set of notes—not a prepared text—so a transcript is not available. But in an interview with The Crimson this evening, Summers said that his speech was a “purely academic exploration of hypotheses..."
Early in his speech, Summers noted that women remain underrepresented in the upper echelons of academic and professional life—in part, he said, because many women with young children are unwilling or unable to put in the 80-hour work-weeks needed to succeed in those fields.
“I said that raised a whole set of questions about how job expectations were defined and how family responsibilities were defined,” according to Summers. “But I said it didn’t explain the differences [in the representation of females] between the sciences and mathematics and other fields"...
“Everyone agrees that working toward gender equity is vitally important,” Summers said this evening. He said that universities must address discrimination head-on, but that academics must also engage in “careful, honest and rigorous research” to understand the factors fueling the under-representation of females. “My speculations were intended to contribute to that process,” he said.