Thursday, September 14, 2006


Are Men Smarter Than Women?

A recent study produced by Dr. Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn claims that men are smarter than women. Dr Irwing is a senior lecturer in organisational psychology at Manchester University and Professor Lynn is an emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Ulster. The study, which is due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology later this year, states that men are more intelligent than women by five IQ points on average. Their research is based on IQ tests which were given to 80,000 people and a further 20,000 students. The study showed that up to the age of 14 there was no difference between the IQs of boys and girls, however beyond the age of 14 and into adulthood there was a difference of five points. The study also showed that men outnumbered women in increasing numbers as intelligence levels rose. There were twice as many men with IQ scores of 125 and when scores rose to 155 (a level associated with genius) there were five and a half men for every woman at that level.

Dr. Irwing and Professor Lynn believe that this increased intelligence in men makes them better suited to “tasks of high complexity”. Apparently it also explains why more men are chess grandmasters or have won Nobel prizes than women. In addition to Dr. Irwing and Professor Lynn’s research the President of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers, has claimed that one reason men outperform women in maths and science is genetics. He suggested that women have less innate ability at science and maths than men. Dr Summers said the theory that men were more naturally able at sciences was based on research, not his own opinions. He also stated that the shortage of senior female academics was partly because of child-minding duties.

When I heard a report on the radio about Dr. Irwing and Professor Lynn’s study it struck me as slightly odd that two men would be given money to research and develop an opinion on which sex is more intelligent. Was this study carried out to inform educational policy in the UK? You could look at this research and say that men are better are IQ tests than women. How do you define intelligence and measure it accurately? It has been found in the case of intelligence tests that many more men score at the top and the bottom of the intelligence scale. Does this mean that the men at the top and bottom of the intelligence scale cancel each other out? Could it be that on average men and women are equally intelligent?

All these questions are confusing me. Stop it! Stop it!
On average, women have nicer bottoms than men.
What a can of worms you've opened!

First, IQ is a specific type of measurement and there is much academic debate as to what constitutes intelligence and even if we could accurately define intelligence I would argue that it doesn’t necessarily equate to being smart. I would consider myself to be intelligent but I can be quite dumb in many contexts and I reckon most women are smarter than me. :-)

Also, the absence of women with high IQ’s in contrast to men could be purely down to social factors. If the development of one’s IQ is affected by the activities and roles in which you partake, traditional social factors that steer men in one direction and women in others could simply mean that less women get the chance to develop high IQ’s and doesn’t necessarily mean that women are genetically inferior to men in this context.

Finally, I would be amazed if the intentions of the researchers were in any way misogynistic, I suspect they were just researching IQ and simply reported their findings in a factual manner. At the end of the day, many studies have shown that men and women’s brains are different. However, instead of constantly trying to figure out who is smarter, I think we should just accept that we are a little bit different but not better or worse than each other. Anyways, if men really are more intelligent, how come girls are consistently getting better results in school exams... maybe they’re just a little bit smarter than they let on!
Donal, I know it's a lot of questions but genetically you are probably better equipped to deal with them than I am. :-)

Gammagoblin, good point even if it is slightly off the topic. Women on average do have nicer bottoms than men but hey I won't go into it now, it should probably go into an 'Ass/No Ass Theory - Part 2' blog post!

PCB, I agree that IQ tests are only a specific type of measurement and it is hard to quantify intelligence. I don't believe that the researchers intentions were misogynistic but I would like to know if the results will have a practical application or if they were done solely for publication in a journal.
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