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TIME

Our cover story on the new research into the differences between men’s and women’s brains debunked the notion that women lack the aptitude for scientific achievement

“Your story on women and the sciences was a wake-up call to anyone who is hanging on to a one-size-fits-all view of teaching math and scientific subjects.”
Cathy Seeley
Austin, Texas, U.S.

“Who says a woman can’t be Einstein?” was invaluably informative about the scientific research and sociological theories concerning women in math and science [March 28]. As a woman university student, I am continually saddened by the negative attitudes that persist in academia about women’s aptitude in these fields. As suggested by your article, the educational system—not biology—is to blame for any discrepancy between the achievements of men and women. Given the right training and encouragement at an early age, women can, without a doubt, equal men in math, science and engineering—just as they have in other fields.
Manisha Chakravarthy
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S.

The question is not whether women lack an innate ability to succeed and excel in science (that is simply not the case) but whether there are gender-based, neuronal differences in how males and females perceive input, frame scenarios and derive conclusions. If male and female scientists arrive at identical conclusions via similar yet subtly different pathways, it suggests that together we may reach a far greater understanding of any particular problem than through any single-gender effort. In the pursuit of scientific truth, the wealth of knowledge gained through diverse perspectives truly elevates us. I sincerely hope we’re not all the same. It would be a pretty boring place if we were.
James S. Lee, Director
Math and Science Programs
Cambridge College
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.

Your story on women and the sciences was a wake-up call to anyone who is hanging on to a one-size-fits-all view of teaching math and scientific subjects. Research confirms what perceptive teachers know: different people (whether they differ by gender, age or simply nature’s diversity) learn at different times and in different ways. We cannot cling to a naive assumption that most students will learn in the same way if they just apply themselves. We know how to teach mathematics for all students: by using instruction strategies that target visual and perceptive ways of learning, not just symbols, and engaging students in challenging problems so they can both understand and use math in life after school.
Cathy Seeley, President
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Austin, Texas, U.S.

Women are as smart as men? Have you ever known a man to buy a shirt that buttons up the back?
Bob Bowen
Powhatan Point, Ohio, U.S.

Larry Summers is being punished in the name of political correctness for his ideas on male and female brains. But this controversy isn’t about whether a theory is right or wrong. It’s about whether academic freedom is at risk.
Mary L. Mitchell
Toronto

Stubborn or Sour? Columnist Joe Klein’s “the creative Stubbornness of Harry Reid” [March 28], on the Senate minority leader’s success in blocking Republican-sponsored legislation, should have been called “The Sour-Grapes Obstructionism of Harry Reid.” Why glorify Reid’s antics when there is so much that needs to be accomplished in Washington?
Donald Nagy
Chino Valley, Arizona, U.S.

When the G.O.P. crushed former minority leader Tom Daschle’s bid for re-election, the Republicans thought they had broken the back of the Democratic resistance. But as Klein pointed out, the soft-spoken and creatively stubborn Reid has marshaled his troops much as Robert E. Lee did and is winning on the battlegrounds of his choosing. It remains to be seen whether, like Lee, Reid will eventually fall or Americans will realize that control of all three branches of government by a single party leads to extremism.
Del Hindle
High Ridge, Missouri, U.S.

Classy and Controversial Your story on the success of U.S. secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in reshaping diplomacy was right on the mark [March 28]. When President Bush appointed her, he knew that she would represent him and the U.S. with class, style and brilliance. I have been following her career over the years, and I must say our President couldn’t have made a better choice.
Micky A. Gutier
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.

Appreciation
A common phrase heard around TIME’s editorial offices in London, especially late on Saturday nights when we were frantically trying to close the magazine, was: “Ask Penny.” Penny Campbell, who died unexpectedly last month, was our very own walking encyclopedia. Whatever information you needed—whether it was pointers on an arcane aspect of TIME style, the current status of some attempted coup or the latest piece of office news—Penny knew. And she would happily tell you, too, over a steaming cup of organic Earl Grey tea and a chocolate biscuit.

In Hong Kong, where Penny was an associate editor with TIME’s Asian edition before taking on the same role for the European edition in London, she was known as “Moneypenny,” after the indefatigable assistant in the James Bond series. The nickname reflected not only Penny’s remarkable efficiency and industriousness, but also the bemused calm with which she was able to soothe even our most voluble foreign correspondents. Indeed, for reporters working from the world’s war zones and other unsavory hot spots, the sound of civilization was Penny’s marvelous, sprightly voice. But another thing that Penny knew was when work could wait. She once instructed a distraught correspondent, who had both a deadline and a screaming infant to contend with, to give the child a bubble bath and come back to the story later. Penny showed us all how to balance professionalism with parenthood: her young son Joseph would dart around the office for a few hours every Saturday, invariably dressed as Spiderman.

For us, Penny had superhero powers, too. She was warm, vivacious, intelligent, indispensible. She looked at life like she sometimes took her tea: with a squeeze of British lemon that gave us all a jolt. As a journalist, as a colleague, as a friend, Penny was all we ever could have asked for.

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