Sunday, July 15, 2012

Women Are Cleverer Than Men

May not be backed by scientific evidence
It's official, women are more intelligent than men - according to the Sunday Times at least.

Putting aside doubts as to IQ tests accuracy in measuring real levels of intelligence, this finding is interesting. It suggests that women were once lagging behind men but have recently overtaken them in terms of their IQ score. This won't come as a surprise to many who have observed boys falling behind girls in academic achievement for many years. Surely it was only a matter of time before this trend fed into adult world?

Well, that all seems very plausible, but if you read the article more closely you realise that, in fact, there is very little evidence to make direct comparisons between men and women's IQ scores. The headline "WOMEN REALLY ARE CLEVERER" would have been more accurate, if less catchy as "THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE THAT WOMEN'S IQ SCORES ARE INCREASING FASTER THAN MEN'S AND IN SOME COUNTRIES SUCH AS ARGENTINA, NEW ZEALAND AND ESTONIA, WOMEN HAVE MARGINALLY OVERTAKEN THEM".

The rather sexist conclusion to the article comes in the form of a comment from a woman who has very little regard for her husband who she clearly thinks is a bit dim...

"For many women such stereotypes are being reversed. Helena Jamieson, 33, a consultant, studied English literature at Cambridge and her husband, Luke, 37, a stay-at-home father, studied geography at Kent University.
She said: “We have done the role reversal. I’m definitely the more intellectual person in the relationship and I’m at work full time rising up the career ladder while he is raising our daughter.
“In the past men would belittle me and that is just never an attractive quality in a man. I think women probably always knew secretly deep down that they were the more intelligent ones — but as the gentler sex as well we were quiet about it and let men continue to believe that they ruled the world.” "
Of course, unless Helena is living in Argentina, New Zealand or Estonia, there's little evidence her sex is any more intelligent on average than men. But let's not let that little fact simplify her massive superiority complex. [UPDATE: See Helena's comments below. She isn't the stereotypical man-basher the article portrays]

I suspect there has been an equalisation in IQ scores of the two sexes and this reflects sociological changes in western societies over decades. The question is why was there ever a difference in the measure, and how relevant the score is to measuring the people's real potential level of intelligence. I wonder if Helena had focused on the more substantial difference in average IQ scores between societies in the West and the 3rd world, whether her views would have made it into a national newspaper article at all. If they had she would probably be condemned as a racist. But a bit of light hearted stupid man bashing is fine, it seems.


  1. Fullabeanz, I really wouldn't take articles like this too seriously. And be careful what you write :)

    1. My point is that IQ tests shouldn't be taken seriously as a measure of potential or even current intelligence. The article is clearly light hearted but this kind of media hype around a "study" (the headline claiming that this study proves women were cleverer than men, for example) can be taken out of context and used by some to back their prejudices. If you are the real Helena, I'm afraid you are painted as one of these types of people, perhaps unfairly?

      The shame is that this kind of article trivialises a serious issue which is that boys are indeed falling behind girls academically at school. More seriously, it may even firm up a belief that some may hold that this is a natural and genetic outcome... that females are just cleverer than males. When in fact, boys are being let down by parents and schools, badly.

      Happy to amend my post if you'd like to clarify your views which, no doubt, are more sophisticated that than the Sunday Time journalist lets on.

  2. Hi Fullabeanz. I am indeed the real Helena and you have a very good point. I have the utmost respect for my husband and neither he nor I take IQ tests seriously (he has a higher IQ than me!) I was asked to make a lighthearted comment on the subject, as the main breadwinner in our household. My academic background and career path have meant that it makes more sense for me to go back to work and my husband to raise our daughter, rather than vice versa. I don't equate that choice with intelligence levels but am grateful for having worked hard on a good degree that has opened doors and enabled us to make that choice. I'm a feminist but not a man-basher!

    1. Thanks for putting the record straight.

      I totally respect your choices (not that you should care if I do or don't of course). It's further evidence of improved equality between men and women that is to be welcomed. I wouldn't have any qualms about doing the same with my family if the situation was the same here.

  3. I don't believe the graphic was necessary.

    - A man with zero interest in sports, limited interest in TV and virtually infinite interest in family, children, etc.

    1. I share your interests. The graphic is there to illustrate the kind of lazy sexist stereotyping the Sunday Times article plays to.