Press Releases | Academic Freedom

Carole Hooven to be Honored as ACTA’s 2023 Hero of Intellectual Freedom

October 16, 2023

Carole Hooven, associate in the lab of Steven Pinker and nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has been recognized as a Hero of Intellectual Freedom by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). ACTA’s Hero of Intellectual Freedom award honors individuals who have bravely defended viewpoint diversity and free expression in higher education.

The author of T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us, Dr. Hooven served as the former codirector of undergraduate studies in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how hormones shape human behavior (and vice versa), specifically related to sex differences. Her Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the “top ten tried and true” by the Harvard Crimson.

In 2021, she appeared on Fox and Friends to discuss the pressure some faculty feel to refrain from using terms such as “pregnant woman” and “male and female.” After her appearance, the director of her department’s diversity, inclusion, and belonging task force, a graduate student, published a Tweet calling her remarks “transphobic” and “dangerous.” The incident went viral, and a petition was circulated against Dr. Hooven. While facing intense attacks on her reputation and academic work, she received no support from the Harvard administration.

“Some say cancel culture isn’t real. What happened to Carole Hooven at Harvard is proof that it is,” said Steven McGuire, ACTA’s Paul & Karen Levy Fellow in Campus Freedom. “She was denounced and ostracized by students and other faculty members for daring to discuss matters related to her scientific expertise on a television program. Abandoned by all but a few of her colleagues, she refused to apologize or yield to the vicious attacks, and she took a stand for academic freedom, science, and the pursuit of truth. She truly is a hero of intellectual freedom, modeling for others the courage it takes to resist the whims of ideological censors.” Dr. McGuire recently engaged in a lively conversation with Dr. Hooven on ACTA’s podcast, Higher Ed Now.

“Carole Hooven was attacked for mentioning ideas that can be found in an introductory biology textbook. How can we hope to see progress in science if scholars cannot discuss even the basics of their fields without fear of reprisal from ideologues?” stated ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “As Albert Einstein said, ‘freedom of communication is indispensable for the development and extension of scientific knowledge.’ Harvard abandoned its duties to science and to a member of its community when it refused to defend Dr. Hooven. We at ACTA take pride in honoring her. She has shown great courage and resilience and, unlike Harvard, has demonstrated her unwavering commitment to scientific integrity during this trial.”

ACTA will honor Dr. Hooven in Washington, DC, at our annual ATHENA Roundtable Conference on October 27, 2023. She joins a distinguished group of Heroes of Intellectual Freedom from previous years, including Professor Erec Smith of York College of Pennsylvania (2022), Professor Dorian Abbot of the University of Chicago (2021), and Joshua Katz, formerly of Princeton University (2020).

MEDIA CONTACT: Gabrielle Anglin


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