[Paleopsych] BBC: 'Men cleverer than women' claim

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'Men cleverer than women' claim
Published: 2005/08/25 09:57:24 GMT

[e-mails to the BBC included.]

    Academics in the UK claim their research shows that men are more
    intelligent than women.

    A study to be published later this year in the British Journal of
    Psychology says that men are on average five points ahead on IQ tests.

    Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn claim the difference grows when
    the highest IQ levels are considered.

    Their research was based on IQ tests given to 80,000 people and a
    further study of 20,000 students.

    'Widening gap'

    Dr Irwing, a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at
    Manchester University, told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four the
    study showed that, up to the age of 14, there was no difference
    between the IQs of boys and girls.

    "But beyond that age and into adulthood there is a difference of five
    points, which is small but it can have important implications," he

    "This is against a background of women dramatically overtaking men in
    educational attainment and making very rapid advances in terms of
    occupational achievement."

    The academics used a test which is said to measure "general cognitive
    ability" - spatial and verbal ability.

    As intelligence scores among the study group rose, the academics say
    they found a widening gap between the sexes.

    There were twice as many men with IQ scores of 125, for example, a
    level said to correspond with people getting first-class degrees.

    At scores of 155, associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every

    Nobel prize-winners

    Dr Irwing told The Times the differences "may go some way to
    explaining the greater numbers of men achieving distinctions of
    various kinds, such as chess grandmasters, Fields medallists for
    mathematics, Nobel prize-winners and the like".

    The paper will argue that there is evidence that at the same level of
    IQ, women are able to achieve more than men "possibly because they are
    more conscientious and better adapted to sustained periods of hard

    Earlier this year, the president of Harvard University, Lawrence
    Summers, sparked controversy when he suggested at a seminar that one
    reason men outperformed women in maths and science was genetics.

    Several guests walked out of the conference after hearing the

    Dr Summers, who has apologised repeatedly for his remarks, said later
    that the shortage of senior female academics was partly caused by
    child-minding duties, which restricted working hours.

    What is your reaction to this research? Are men more intelligent than
    women? Send us your comments using the form below.

    My reaction, coming from a family with a tradition of women who
    achieve very highly in maths and sciences, is weary disgust. Yet
    again, what is intelligence? Who is defining it? Have these
    researchers looked at IQ levels below the average, at gender
    differentials among prison inmates? Let's have these included for
    balance, please.
    Julia Blincoe, Southampton, England

    All this discussion is fairly irrelevant. Men and women have different
    and also some similar skills but we are all genetically programmed for
    survival, together. Basically we need teamwork and to be able to work
    to each other's strengths and minimise our collective weaknesses in
    order to make any progress in future. Divisive talk about who is
    better than who is pointless and smacks of political correctness.
    Richard, Worksop

    I think that this study is probably true in a lot of cases, but this
    is because young girls change their ideals from learning. They start
    to have maternal thoughts of children and emotional attachment to
    partners. Therefore they neglect high learning for their natural
    development of nurturing. In general though I think women are equal to
    men, but in different roles.
    Darrell Beck, Jacksonville, Florida

    Modern IQ tests are no longer biased at all. They have been
    re-designed to be taken by anyone in the world, with any kind of
    education (or no education). Before the tests are rubbished, maybe we
    can establish if they are of the modern variety? I for one am getting
    tired of the media continually men-bashing and portraying men as
    incapable. It's nice to have some evidence to the contrary once in a
    Nigel, UK

    The only thing IQ tests prove is how good you are at doing IQ tests.
    Matthew, Cheshire, UK

    Let's not ignore the fact that researchers believe about 20-25 IQ
    points are influenced by environmental factors. And the fact that test
    scores are adjusted for gender anyway as males tend to score higher on
    some factors and females on others. This is not a pure measure of
    intelligence, but a human-devised Western (and usually male and white)
    Flo, Malvern, England

    I do not believe, on average, that men are more intelligent than
    women. I'm convinced we often find more men at the extremes like in
    academia or indeed in the work place simply because we still live in a
    male-driven society. Women think differently from men, that I do agree
    with, but more intelligent? From my 'empirical analysis' I find this
    Jason Robinson, Cambridge

    To throw in another possible factor, remember also the competitive
    aspect of IQ tests: the average man is possibly more likely to treat a
    measurement of his mental capacity as a chance to prove himself; the
    average woman may not push herself as hard as she does not consider
    the result quite so important.
    Anne, London, UK

    I scored relatively high in an IQ test when I was a child. Since then
    I have done many many many very very very stupid things in my life. I
    still wonder what that test has to do with intelligence or
    understanding at all.
    Alex, Wien, Austria

    I'm surprised that an academic journal is even considering this
    publication. A 'scientific' study that only takes into account one
    measure of intelligence that is well known to be biased towards white
    European males really shouldn't be taken seriously. I suspect the
    editor of the journal is male.
    Maria, Sheffield

    It really does amuse me that some men need to keep creating these
    tests to prove to themselves that they are more capable than women. I
    don't read about a rush of women psychologists doing the same thing.
    Maybe the women know the truth anyway or maybe they just don't care.
    Hazel, Sheffield

    I hope this taken for exactly what it is. A scientific study. Most of
    these things have little or no bearing on everyday life for most of
    us. However, as a man, it is nice to hear something positive about us
    for once.
    Nick Spiers, London

    I can easily see this as being true. However, it would be interesting
    to also look at the bottom IQ levels and see which sex has more at
    that level before making any judgements. Given that that sections of
    the media are so keen on denigrating men, and the advertising industry
    is so addicted to portraying men as buffoons and women as intelligent,
    perhaps this might re-adjust the balance a little. I find that
    although many of the women I've known are more socially intelligent,
    their general knowledge has always been abysmal, hence this being no
    Huw Morgan, Cardiff, UK

    I suspect the tests were formulated to play to men's strengths.
    Perhaps the tests were even set by men. IQ tests have long been
    recognised as skewed towards white men of European origin, why do we
    continue to pay attention to them? IQ tests still don't measure the
    different ways that intelligence can manifest itself, and until they
    do, they will continue to provide fodder to those who seek to
    re-establish man's 'superiority' over women.
    Roanne, Derby, UK

    I don't think men are more intelligent than women on average. However,
    from personal experience I would say that the distribution of
    intelligence in men is more extreme, that is to say, there are more
    exceptionally clever men than women, but there are also more
    exceptionally stupid men than women.
    Robin, Oxford, IKL

    It has long been accepted that IQ tests are gender-biased: they are
    designed by men to test 'male intelligence', such as spatial
    awareness. They simply do not cover all aspects of intelligence.
    Therefore it is no surprise that a test designed by men, and a study
    carried out by men, has found that men are 'more intelligent' than
    Jenny, London

    If your report is accurate, what this study actually shows is that men
    are better at IQ tests than women. This is not (necessarily) the same
    as saying men are cleverer than women. That would require rather more
    criteria than just an IQ test.
    Phil Evans, Keele, UK

    I have the impression that society allows men to develop skills in a
    focussed way, with less time reserved for repetitive care tasks. IQ
    can be improved in this way. It is not set and fixed at birth. If men
    hone skills at the expense of good housekeeping or social
    responsibilities, perhaps they are granted the time to develop the
    extra five points where women spend more time looking after
    Marjoline, The Hague, Holland

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