Before "Larry Summers" became synonymous with expert for hire by Wall Street, he was the Harvard President, who suggested, while claiming that he wished to "provoke," that "there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude," that might explain the relatively low presence of women "in high-end scientific professions." Summers insisted that his is an "entirely positive" not "normative approach." (Summer 2005; he is deploying a standard distinction among economists.) The lecture set off a furore that contributed to his eventual resignation from Harvard (it surely did not help he was in charge of a nearly US$ 1 Billion loss on speculative investments). But...before his notoriety Summers was one of those economists that effortlessly move between academia and government (while generally serving the interests of the wealthy). Such folk become prominent within public policy economics through highly regarded academic work, which won Summers the John Bates Clark Medal (1993) and which partially accounted for his selection as Chief economist at The World Bank (1991-3). As the politically influential, but nevertheless academic Vice-President of the World Bank, Summers was invited to Pakistan to give The Quaid-i-Azam Lecture in 1992, "Investing in All the People," to the Pakistan Society of Development Economists. The main point of Summers' lecture, which has been cited close to 300 times and is easily found on the internet, is:
Investing in the education of girls may well be the highest return investment available in the developing world. As such, increasing the level of female education is an especially high priority in Pakistan.
So, before Summers became synonymous with sexism in academia he was an advocate of underprivileged women's education. (A topic Summers continues to talk about.) The paper was admiringly profiled in Business Week, and created the meme of Summers as "iconoclastic Liberal." For those that like their irony fully symmetric, I note that the 1992 magazine article treats Summers as an academic "provocateur." Summers' Pakistani hosts asked a mathematical economist hailing from Waziristan, MA Khan (then as now at Johns Hopkins), to offer comments (see here). Rather than dazzle his famous American colleague and "the Pakistani Minister of Defence and Minister of Water and Power" (quoted from Richard H. Sabot's response to Summers) with state of the art mathematical technique, Khan quotes Derrida and Clifford Geertz in the process of calling Summers "reckless."