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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Barbarians at the University Gate

Having seen the trouble that one Harvard person got into for suggesting the centrality of sex differences, I am not going to speculate about whether women leaders would have avoided the Wall Street mess. I do think many on Wall Street were as removed from reality, as were the automobile executives who flew on private jets to D.C. or the executives of bailed-out firms who paid out huge bonuses and set up expensive junkets. They neither thought about the possible down side of what they were doing, nor the limits of complex computer programs they were using.

I do have one insight into the Wall Street debacle. Intentionally or not, recruiters were looking for individuals who were clever -- who could come up with ever more complex maneuvers and strategies, including ones that were on the edge of legality, if not clearly illegal. The implicit, if not explicit message was, "Do whatever it takes to record ever-greater profits, secure ever greater bonuses, and don't get caught doing it." This message is a powerful one and one that is not easy for a young person on the make to ignore.

My own research with college students at elite schools suggests that this mentality is quite widespread. I will leave it to others to determine whether this profile relates to gender, testosterone, ambition, identification with the barbarians at the gate, or lack of ethical fiber...and who or what to blame for the result.

By Howard Gardner

 |  March 9, 2009; 3:34 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Women in Fantasy Land | Next: Gender No Silver Bullet

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