Are women smarter than men?
Vail CO, Colorado
My significant other and I don’t argue. Rather, we “debate” issues. And the other day we had a doozy.
The topic: Who’s smarter, men or women? Bobbi and I agreed that the empirical data wasn’t really definitive either way. Nevertheless, according to numerous sur-veys, men believe they are smarter than women. At the same time, studies indicate that the majority of women underestimate their IQ scores by about five points, while men overestimate theirs by at least that much.
Interestingly, while underes-timating their own intelli-gence, women also overesti-mate the intelligence of men in general. ( Well, maybe not so much in our household.) And according to surveys, most believe their fathers are/were smarter than their mothers, and their grandfathers are/were more intelligent than their grandmothers.
We concurred that the worrisome aspect of this latter notion is that it could cause parents to send misleading messages to their children about their potential, even though comprehensive studies done in Great Britain among students aged 8 to 18 indicate that girls do much better than boys in nearly all subjects. (Studies in the U.S. show mixed results.) I was quick to point out, however, that there’s a lot more going on within that demographic than general intelligence, and perhaps those British female students were simply more conscientiousness than their male counterparts.
I also argued that men score higher in specialized skills such as spatial aptitude, math and science.
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Bobbi countered with the fact that women score higher in language development and emotional intelli-gence, whatever that is.
Still, research indicates that overall, there are no important differences when it comes to gender and intelligence.
So, why are men more confident about their IQs? Conceivably, it’s because men have more expectant atti-tudes regarding their intelligence, and human nature being what it is, tend to live up to their expectations.
We agreed that female students will probably out-perform males in environments that emphasize contin-ual assessment such as weekly coursework, while male students have a tendency to make one big effort when completing specific projects and studying for final exams.
Bobbi pointed out that fewer females have learning disabilities than do males and that the average woman is more in tune with her surroundings and how it affects others, which can make a woman appear more intelligent.
I couldn’t argue.
Sensing that Bobbi was getting the better of me in the debate, I resorted to the “size matters” argument. I told her that men have physically larger brains than women. Bobbi was unimpressed and could sense that I was reaching. But nevertheless, I conceded that anytime the talk turns to intelligence and gender, it’s going to create controversy.
Drawing upon anecdotal evidence, Bobbi argued that media executives and Madison Avenue must feel women are smarter than men because if they didn’t, why would so many TV shows and product commer-cials depict the wife as being smarter than the husband? My rejoinder was that sitcoms and TV commercials also portray kids as being smarter than either parent, with the family dog the smartest of all.
Not to be outdone, Bobbi got in a good shot when she said, “OK, smarty-pants, but it didn’t take Oprah Winfrey 20 years to figure out that belonging to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ was-n’t a real good idea ” unlike , ahem, a certain presi-dential candidate.”
Whoa there, Nellie! Now the debate was tacking sharply towards “gotcha territory,” so I asked Bobbi, “Why, then, do men control the finances in most households?” with the implication that men are much better at han-dling money than women.
Bobbi counter-punched, saying, “Perhaps they do, but they shouldn’t, because women as a whole are far more fiscally responsible than men,” citing how men spend far too much money on toys and have a much greater propensity than women to lose mon-ey to Internet fraud and other get-rich schemes.
But the knockout blow occurred when Bobbi related a story about a conversation she overheard a few years ago while riding in an elevator at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. It seems a middle-aged couple was vacation-ing there.
The husband been to the Strip numerous times, but it was the wife’s first attempt at gambling. Bobbi told how she listened to the husband berate his wife for losing $500 at the gaming tables.
“But you lost $5,000,” the wife said.
The husband didn’t miss a beat. “Yeah, but I know how to gamble!”
Quote of the day: “Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember.”
Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes weekly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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