Monday, September 05, 2005

Here we go again

I see the ever-popular Guardian gender section cover story is back... Men, it turns out, according to the latest wannabe popular scientist, are smarter than women. As usual the focus of the article then witters on to whether women's progress will be turned back 200 years when word gets out. There are a few points which the article doesn't really get into in all the detail I'd like. So I've suggested some alternative headlines:

1) Lets assume IQ and IQ alone dictates ability to do a high-level job. Now we're told that the study shows that "there are three men to each woman with an IQ of more than 130, and 5.5 men for each woman with an IQ above 145". So why isn't a woman for every 5 men in a position of national leadership?

Here's the numbers by the way - amazing I can get my pretty little head around them I know - there are about 200 countries in the world. Most have one or two main leaders, a president and a prime minister, or just a prime minister, I'm ignoring monarchs who don't have any actual political power like the queen. So lets say a total of 300 key world political players.

And women in those roles:
Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka (1994- )
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland (1997- )
Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999- )
Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999- )
Tarja K. Halonen, President of Finland (2000- )
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines (2001- )
Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh (1991-1996, 2001- )
Luisa Diogo, Prime Minister of Mozambique (2004- )
Yulia Timoshenko, Prime Minister of Ukraine (2005- )

I make that nine. Lets assume I've missed one (I haven't, I'm smarter than that but hell...), so thats one woman for every 30 men in a position of global political power. So the headline should be *IQ study suggests women should have six times more political power*. That's not turning back the progress of the womens' movement...

2) This loser's so-called scientific research also shows that *Black people have a lower IQ than white people* by 15 points - three times the alleged male-female differential of 5 points. Why did the Guardian not choose that nugget of "information" as their headline? Well because the public would have reacted with understandable disgust to such a suggestion. And we're back at square one here where racism is rightly shocking but sexism is the acceptable face of prejudice.

3) So what? Since when has IQ and IQ alone been a reliable indicator of ability to do a worthwhile job or earn a certain salary? In my professional life there has always been a lot more need for hard slog than for genius inspiration. And we all know girls get better exam results than boys... "Prof" Lynn tackles this point with confidence:

"Asked why girls consistently outperform their male peers at school, he said: "When you're talking about better exam results like GCSEs and A-levels, this is partly a function of intelligence and partly a function of motivation and conscientiousness.

"Many of today's exams involve coursework, and women are more conscientious than men. This explains why girls are doing well at this level despite their lower IQs.""

So how about running with the headline *Women more conscientious than men*. Since given our super-low IQs we must be doing a hell of alot of extra work to take more exam glory across the board than boys! And isn't coursework - where you can use reference books, look stuff up and ask for help if you need it - a lot more like real life work than sitting in a dusty exam hall? Not that I have seen any evidence to suggest that coursework is the area where girls overtake boys.

4) Funny how whenever IQ is mentioned in any other context the media is quick to dismiss it's relevance. Suddenly when there's a chance to put women down or justify the pre-existing prejudice they've all been subscribing to for hundreds of years, it's the be-all and end-all again. So perhaps *no headline at all* would be a good choice?

5) No difference in average IQs justifies a deliberately discriminatory policy in the workplace, in the academic arena, or anywhere else. A difference in averages relates to averages. If a woman has the skills to do the job, give her the job. Assess people on an individual basis. Surely that's obvious. Again I think I'm going for no headline at all, although they probably need to fill paper space so *Vacuous pseudo-scientist publishes pointless report*

6) Personally my IQ has been measured a few times and has to date come out consistently in the range 156 to 164. This makes me one-in-five-thousand, but remember that means one-in-thirty-thousand since I'm a woman too, and therefore stacks more conscientious. So my final suggested headline is *Cruella for prime minister* ...join the campaign now!


Cruella said...

Wow, thanks for that Iceman. It's amazing that a paper like the Guardian which no doubt considers itself both respectable and liberal would bother to read such reports.

The other thing that Lynn and his sort seem to be assuming is that IQ is a biologically determined fact, set in stone from the second you're conceived. Of course it's not. People with limited exposure to quality education end up with lower IQs, so do the malnourished. I read a report somewhere suggesting that the IQ of your primary care-giver in your formative years is the best indicator of adult IQ. So you would think they would check nursery school teachers to make sure they're smart enough for the job.

Cruella said...

It's a long time since I spent an evening in Roppongi but I think we could probably comclude that the average IQ in the area isn't going to require three figures.

Cruella said...

Firstly Lynn is not a respected scientist, if you take a look at the links posted in comments by iceman you'll see he is not respected in the scientific community. My point was that the media provides a a false sense that he is by publishing articles such as the one in question.

Secondly it's quite clear from your response that you haven't read my actual original piece. At no point do I argue that the whole of humanity must have the same average IQ. If you wish to post on my blog, please read what I write first. Thanks.

Cruella said...

Well iceman has kindly provided links to websites providing information to support his points. Providing evidence is a key component of scientific discourse. When you start doing so I'll take your comments seriously.