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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
'Men cleverer than women' claim
Who will get a first?
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.

'Widening gap'

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 said.

"This is against a background of women dramatically overtaking men in educational attainment and making very rapid advances in terms of occupational achievement."

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 woman.

Nobel prize-winners

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 work".

His co-author Richard Lynn's previous work on the genetic and environmental influences on intelligence and race has proved controversial.

Prof Lynn, an emeritus professor at the University of Ulster, has argued that people of east Asian origin have higher IQs on average than Europeans, or that those from sub-Saharan Africa have lower IQs than African Americans.

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 comments.

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.

Your comments

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 balance, please.
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.
Richard, Worksop

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 while.
Nigel, UK

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) instrument.
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 unlikely.
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.
Maria, Sheffield

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.
Hazel, Sheffield

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 for once.
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 surprise.
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 women.
Jenny, London

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 house/kids/husband/parents/friends.
Marjoline, The Hague, Holland

Harvard row over sex and science
18 Jan 05 |  Education
Women cleverer than men, says MP
08 Dec 04 |  Education

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