Gilligan's Answers to Atlantic Attack Leave Critics Guessing

Carol Gilligan is Harvard's celebrated gender studies professor, Ms. Magazine's 1984 Woman of the Year and winner of the prestigious $250,000 Heinz award.

She is also a shoddy social scientist whose landmark work is "an extravagant piece of speculation" based on elusive empirical evidence, according to the Atlantic Monthly's May cover story.

In the past, Gilligan has answered her critics by emphasizing that her work rings true with readers--and dismissing claims that psychologists have been unable to replicate her findings.

Now, the 63-year-old Graham professor of gender studies emphasizes that her work is grounded in empirical research.

"I have accountability up the wazoo," she says. "My work is based on evidence, not orthodoxy."

And she is assailing the Atlantic's cover story and its author, Christina Hoff Sommers, whose attacks, she says, ignore the studies Gilligan published to back up her 1982 best-seller, In a Different Voice.

But Sommers stands by the Atlantic article, an excerpt from her upcoming book, The War Against Boys, and claims Gilligan is a "clever illusionist" who has not produced the studies that actually prove her controversial assertions about sex differences in moral reasoning.

At the crux of this she-said, she-said debate is a stack of interviews locked in the Harvard Archives, accessible only to those with Gilligan's expressed permission. Releasing this raw data may finally put an end to two decades' worth of scholarly speculation about the validity of In a Different Voice.

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