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Friday, April 10, 2009

Women, Mathematics, etc

Senator Marian Walsh has been deemed unsuitable for a position at the state Health and Education Facilities Authority because she has no expertise in public sector bonding.

I would have thought that made her an excellent choice. Someone on the board who can ask naive questions about complex securities like debt swaps and derivatives would force the experts to reveal the level of risk that the Authority was getting itself into.

This brings us to Dr. Iris Mack, with a Ph.D. in mathematics, who was fired from Harvard Management in 2002 for telling her boss's boss (then President Larry Summers) that the employees at Harvard Management were undertaking trades in securities whose risk they did not understand (Ex-employee says she warned Harvard of risky moves, Boston Globe, April 3, 2009). It is a pity that Dr. Summers didn't take her seriously. If he had, he would never have made the remarks that sparked the controversy about women in science and engineering a few years later.
Martin G. Evans & Nancy R. Evans

Sent to Boston Globe

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