The reason why we have so many men idiots and so few women geniuses…
An unexpected conversation
Two weeks ago, I went to Belgium for a Developer conference. After the long day, folks from my company wanted to visit a Greek restaurant for dinner.
(Yes, a Greek restaurant exists in Antwerp, Belgium.)
Along with a few wines (and Greek music in the background), I stroke an interesting conversation with a woman sitting next to me…
(I never met her before even though we work at the same company.)
This woman was a typical representative of strong, young, and independent women (very successful as well).
She started by asking if I think that “men are smarter than women”.
(The conversation to follow lasted a good 2 hours and went into all sorts of differences between men and women.)
Time flew by and I enjoyed the conversation very much.
Thinking of it now…
While on my flight to London (for some other meetings).
Why not turn this conversation into a Medium article? And write a gist of what I explained to her (so that others can benefit as well).
So what’s the answer to the Million-dollar question…
Who is smarter, men or women?
Show me the numbers
Minding my background in statistics, I want to immediately shift to measurable parameters (else, it’s just an empty word).
(Spoiler: this is not a math/statistics post.)
Our society measures how smart you are with standardized tests that show your coefficient of intelligence (also known as IQ).
(IQ is standardized in a way that it does not depend on the language you speak or your education — it shows the “raw” intelligence and not what you did with it.)
And this is the measure we will use here to proxy smartness.
(Higher IQ — the smarter you are; Lower IQ — the more dump you are.)
As you can imagine, I am not the first to ask this question, and there have been many researches on this topic.
And why are these researches important?
Well, there were huge samples of both men and women to take the IQ tests.
Which means… We know the results.
[Drums sound here.]
So, who is smarter then?
Well, there are no differences in IQ between men and women.
(Sorry to disappoint all the strong women or macho guys here…)
What I mean here is that the IQs that men achieve are also achieved by women…
(Or in other words, there is no problem that can be resolved only by men or women.)
So you can say we are equally smart.
(Despite the fact that men have physically bigger brains than women.)
But there is a catch here…
Although we are “equally smart”, there is a difference in the distribution of intelligence (IQ) across the male/female spectrum.
High chance you won’t understand this
(But let’s try.)
Without going into too many statistics, look at the graph below.
Our starting point is marked with an arrow (yellow line). Do you see it?
This is an average intelligence for both men and women (half of people are more intelligent than this value and the other half are less intelligent than this value).
(You can say, on “average” we are equally intelligent, and that intelligence is 100).
Now, as you move to the right of this point, the surface below the curve will show how many representatives are there (more precisely, the percentage of the population)…
The right tail
Let’s label the folks (both men and women) who have IQ 130 and higher. Look at the graph — these are labeled in yellow color.
If the entire surface below the curve represents 100% of the population, we can say that people who have IQs of 130 (or more) are quite rare (perhaps 15% of the entire population).
So, it’s normal that the surface flattens down (becomes smaller) as you move to the far right (it represents a smaller and smaller subset of the population)…
Because these people are geniuses and there are only a few of them…
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The left tail
It’s the same as you move to the left from the marked point… The more left you go, the more dumb people you encounter…
Far left being absolute morons.
Look below for the green area… It shows the percentage of people who have an IQ of 70 or less.
Luckily enough, there are not that many… Perhaps 15%…
So, as you move to the right side of the central point (IQ=100), you move to the “higher” IQ values and as you move to the left, you move towards “lower” IQ values.
So, what’s the point?
Now look again at two lines representing the distribution of both male/female IQs.
What do you notice?
They have different shapes. Male IQ distribution is smoother but it has very fat “tails”. (The green and yellow area below the BLUE line.)
Women’s IQ distribution is very sharp and it has very “tiny” and “skinny” tails. (The green and yellow area below the RED line.)
And what does this tell you?
There are many men located in the tails of the IQ distribution.
Say, out of 100 men, you will have 10 of them being Einstein-like geniuses and 10 of them being complete morons…
And for women?
Well, tails contain only a few women…
This means that out of 100 women, there will be only 2 women being geniuses and only 2 women being complete idiots.
This translates into the following conclusions.
- You are likely to encounter more male geniuses than women geniuses
- You are likely to encounter more male idiots than women
- As you speak to different women, their intelligence is likely to be about the same
- As you speak to different men, expect their intelligence to vary
- If we remove both tails (extremes), what’s left will be a group of men and women where women are more intelligent than men (thanks Jens for the remark)
But all in all, men are not smarter than women “on average”.
Neither are women smarter…
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Time to offboard the plane for me…