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August 25, 2005


Paul Davies

This really does rank up there in the 'not news' section.

Women have never done as well as men at the top end - girls outperform boys at every level of education except the one that (to an extent at least) rewards thinking.

Having said that, the only person I've ever met that I would genuinely class as a genius is distinctly lacking a Y chromosone. But all the people I know who get close are very much male.


As with Larry Summers, the only reason these statistics should concern is if you think they entail treating individual women differently, but who thinks that? Anyone who does is mathematically illiterate, among other things.

Guess shrillness here is the price we pay for our murky patriarchal past.

Paul Davies

That is the point of all this, no? That there isn't a point. 'So what?' has rarely been a more apt reaction to a piece of news.

Gorse Fox

I have little time for these measures. I believe that you should treat everyone as an individual and respect them for what they are (not what gender, race, colour, religion, IQ they have)**. Treat them with respect and nurture them as possible friends, until they show they are unworthy of that respect. I have worked with some exceptional women of staggering intelligence, and others who would give an amoeba a run for its place in the evolutionary chain (can you say that any more?)... but the same is true of male colleagues with whom I have worked.
**Possibly the only exception is Arsenal supporters!


But is there any truth in the claim anyway? When I last read about it, the sexes performed differently in the different sections of IQ tests, so the section scores were weighted so that both sexes had an average of 100. The fact that then emerged was that men had a higher standard deviation than women, so that very bright people are disproportionately male, and so are very dim. That discovery seems plausible in the light of experience, but would never justify filling a job, say, on any grounds except the merit and promise of the individual candidates.

Andy Cooke

From all I have read, IQ is a measure solely of pattern recognition(when tests for it are constructed well and in an unbiased way not related to knowledge gained from experiences) . Tendencies towards biased results can be unavoidable as the authors' biases to what "Intelligence" actually is flavour their testing regime.

This raises two basic questions:

Firstly, are the (presumably) different spatial awareness tendencies of the male and female brain taken into account?

Secondly, were the IQ tests involved written by balanced teams of males and females, accounting for any potential sex-dependant biases as to the nature of "Intelligence"?

David Wildgoose

There are suggestions that some aspects of intelligence are related to the Y chromosome. For example, there are 7 times as many men of exceptionally sub-normal IQ as there are women. It shouldn't be that surprising that the curve operates at both ends, i.e. there are 7 times as many extremely bright men as there are extremely bright women.

But that's only the extremes. There's also plenty of evidence that women's IQ whilst avoiding the extreme variations also manages to have a higher Median and Mode IQ score - the only reason for a lower Mean IQ score is that there are more people with exceptionally high intelligence than with exceptionally low intelligence.

The sex-linkage comes because women having 2 X-chromosomes have the chance to average out poor genes AND good genes, whereas men have only one X chromosome and get all the badness or all the goodness.

Or at least, that's my understanding of the issue.

Travelling Punk

This is just a typical reaction to one single study that has shown different results to all the rest of the work in this area.

Scientists and the public do not typically base decisions and beliefs on one just on anomalous study in any field - and this should be no different.

IQ test have been repeatedly disreagrded as being misleading and not in any way realted to actaull intelligence. Granted some are balanced in an attempt to eliminate cultural bias, but no tests like this can really measure all the possible signs of intelligence, including creativity or musicality.


"but no tests like this can really measure all the possible signs of intelligence, including creativity or musicality." No doubt, but you might as well say that measuring height doesn't really measure all possible signs of size. Who claims that it does? Does it mean that one shouldn't measure height?


IQ tests don't purport to measure 'creativity or musicality', or anything of the sort. They *do* measure *something*, however imperfectly. Call it g, or whatever, but g doesn't define who you are. At most it constrains what you can do in certain areas.


Surely this is the key:

[a disproportionate number of the exceptional women have come from eastern Europe]

isn't it just as likely that we have a set of social conventions over here that educates the intelligence out of girls?


Hilarious to see so many ancient marxist canards and exploded objections to the world's most successful psychometric test still being trotted out by those who can't face the fact that some people are born smarter than others. The Mismeasure of Morons.

And some RACES are smarter than others, which is what the ostriches really dread the world knowing. Trouble is, most people have known it all along. All the brotherhood-of-man bullshit in the world doesn't change the fact that Africans and South Sea Islanders will never match Europeans, Asiatics and Jews in the brainpower race.


"Second, five IQ points is only one-third of a standard deviation. That means around 37 per cent of women have a higher IQ than the average man. Millions of women, then, are “better suited for tasks of higher complexity” than millions of men."

You are comparing apples and oranges, here is proof:

Let us assume that men's and women's IQs are the same, but men's distributions are greater. The IQ curve, like many other facts in life, is bell shaped (this is due to the central limit theorem, which I will not get into here). This means that there are two haves whose areas are roughly equal: going from 0 IQ to average IQ is one half, while going from average to infinite IQ is the second.

Now since we're considering jobs of complexity, we discard the lower half for both men and women (since people at or below average are not likely to perform well at those jobs). Instead, we concentrate only on people who are average or above average.

Now you know that the upper halves of each IQ bell curve for men and women have roughly the same area. This is because the ratio of men:women is roughly 50:50. But when you observe the curves, you notice that men's curves are shorter in absolute height, but broader. Since the area of each curve represents the total number of people in either group, it thus becomes obvious that, above average IQ, for any woman at any particular IQ, there is at least one man with that same IQ or higher. In other words, looking only at people with average or above average intellect, you can always find a man whose IQ matches or surpasses that of a woman.

The reason why your statement is faulty is because you arbitrarily take a group of women with high IQ and compare them to another arbitrarily selected group of men - who happen to have lower IQs in general. This comparison is invalid because it doesn't compare people from corresponding groups. It's like saying that 99% of all women are smarter than 20% of all men (who happen to represent the lowest ranks on the IQ scale), therefore women are just as smart as men.

In fact when you look at the true contributers and visionaries of society, they are almost always men - precisely because at very high IQ levels (170+) men outnumber women by 13:1 and more.

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