... and comments like the ex-Harvard President proclaiming women are not as smart as men in the fields of math and science, are what sticks in my craw.
I read (and have read) a lot about the brain, psychology, personality types, etc. From what I've seen, it's more that men (in general) are more visual-spatially oriented, and that translates more into the higher maths (trig, calc, spaces, etc.), where I've actually read grade school girls tend to be better than boys in arithmetic, algebra, etc., because it is not as visual-spatial.
I remember reading a book by Charles Townes -- the man who received a Nobel for his work on creating the laser -- where he recounted and experience with Neils Bohr, one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. Townes was excitedly telling the older Bohr about his theory behind the laser. But Bohr, set in his ways by that point, said it would never work. It took young guns to blaze a path forward. In fact, most Nobels in physics have been awarded for work done by young scientists.
There's politics everywhere, but I don't know if that would be a major contributor.
They say that most physicists have done their most groundbreaking work by the time they're 30, and that's not an inaccurate generalization.
That's mainly because of something else I was reading once about the brain. When we're younger, our elastic memory tends to be better than when we're older, but when we're older, our long term memories are much better than someone younger. So, what they've seen is that most mathematicians/scientists tend to do their best work around 30 or so, but the best writers and others who rely on databanks of memory, knowledge and wisdom tend to peak when they're older.
They've done tests where younger people do better on short memory nonsense lanuage tests, for example where the thinking needs to be quick and process new things, but older people tend to do better on tests that rely on drawing on past experience (partly because they have more of it