Just watched a Q&A segment from 1:01:30
on Upworthy. FWIW, here's a manual transcript I made of the segment:
Question from audience [which appears 90% female, and 100% white]: On the Larry Summers question, What's up with chicks in science?
Moderator: Slightly off-topic, but nonetheless interesting.
[Off-camera panel member]: It's science education.
Moderator: Right. Does anyone want to field that question, about whether there are maybe genetic differences between men and women that explain why more men than women are in science? Anyone want to touch that?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson: I've never been female [laughter], but I have been black my whole life.
So let me perhaps offer some insight from that perspective, because there are many similar social issues related to access, to equal opportunity, that we find in the black community as well as the community of women in a white male-dominated society. And I'll be brief, because I want to try to get more questions.
I've known I wanted to do astrophysics, since I was 9 years old, since my first visit to the Hayden planetarium. I was a little younger than Victor at the time, although he did it before I did.
So I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expression of these ambitions, and all I can say is the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist, was hands down the path of most resistance through the forces of nature, the forces of society. Any time I expressed this interest, teachers would say "Don't you want to an athlete?" I wanted to become something that was outside of the paradigms of expectation of the people in power.
And so fortunately, my depth of interest in the universe was so deep, and so fuel-enriched, that every one of these curve balls that I was thrown and fences built in front of me and hills that I had to climb, I just reached for more fuel and I kept going.
Now here I am, one - I think - of the most visible scientists in the land, and I want to look behind me and see where are the others who might have been this, and they're not there. And I wonder how, who, what is the blood on the tracks, that I happened to survive, that others did not, simply because the forces of society prevented it, at every turn.
To the point where I have security guards following me as I go through department stores, presuming that I'm a thief. I walked out of a store one time, and the alarm went off, and so they came running to me. I walked through the gate at the same time a white male walked through the gate. And that guy just walked off with the stolen goods, knowing that they would have stopped me, and not him. That's an interesting sort of exploitation. What a scam that was. People should do that more often. [laughter]
So my life experience tells me that when you don't find blacks in the sciences, you don't find women in the sciences, I know that these forces are real, and I had to survive them to get where I am today.
So before we start talking about genetic differences, you got to come up with a system where there's equal opportunity. Then we can have that conversation.