[Paleopsych] BBC: 'Men cleverer than women' claim
checker at panix.com
Thu Sep 1 00:25:43 UTC 2005
'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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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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