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Charged with the assignment of reflecting on the conference and volume as a whole, and following the contributions of so many other distinguished discussants, I have chosen to step back for a broader perspective and comment on what is not well represented in this volume or in the research from which it draws: expertise in the management of people. Expertise of this type is critical to the military services and to civilian society, in contexts ranging from school classrooms to large commercial organizations. Most studies of expertise focus on some form of technical expertise in an individual. It is rare to study expertise that involves a complex social context and interaction with many other people. In this volume several chapters discuss experts leading their teams, while commanding a military combat unit (Shadrick & Lussier, Chapter 13), conducting surgery (Ericsson, Chapter 18), or teaching introductory physics (VanLehn & van de Sande, Chapter 16). Only the chapter by Mumford, Friedrich, Caughron, and Antes (Chapter 4), focuses directly upon these issues. The reason that the conference and the associated book emphasized individual expert performance is that this is the type of superior objective performance that has been confirmed. Mumford et al.(Chapter 4) report that studies with demonstrations of leaders' influence on their teams' objective performance, such as productivity, are very rare and have conflicting results. The current research base on expertise in the management of people is minimal.
The history of research on the issue of women's participation in mathematics provides an interesting case study of the psychology and sociology of research in the social sciences. Although there had been prior research on the topic, two key works of the early and mid-1970s sparked a major burst of interest. They were Lucy Sell's unpublished study of women at the University of California at Berkeley (Sells, 1973), “High school mathematics as the critical factor in the job market,” and Sheila Tobias's publications on math anxiety (Tobias, 1976, 1978), the first of them an article in MS magazine in 1976. The study of mathematics, or the failure to study mathematics, came to be seen as a critical barrier to women's participation in a wide range of high-status and remunerative occupations during those surging years of the women's movement. Based on a random sample of freshmen entering Berkeley in 1972, Sells (1973) reported that only 8% of the females had taken four years of high school mathematics, whereas 57% of the men had. This report received a lot of attention.
The U.S. National Institute of Education (NIE) responded with plans for a special grants competition addressing this perceived problem. Background preparations for this competition were exceptionally thorough. Three review papers were commissioned to examine existing research results and opinions concerning major classes of possible influences on women's choices to study mathematics or to select occupations requiring mathematical competence: Fennema (1977) reviewed cognitive, affective, and educational influences; Fox (1977) reviewed social influences; and Sherman (1977) reviewed possible biological explanations.