Ever wondered why there are more male presidents, lawyers, accountants, managers, astronauts, scientists, chefs and even fashion designers in this world? Do we really give in to the fact that this is a male-dominated world that we’re living in? Well, perhaps the result of a recent Canadian study can give a concrete answer to these questions. The study was on the long-debated issue whether males have a higher intelligence quotient (IQ) than women.
The latest study by Canadian scientists used the 145-item Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) which was administered to 100,000 students aged 17-18. It found that, based on the SAT scores, men’s IQ is 4-5 points higher than women upon reaching adulthood. J. Philippe Rushton, psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario and one of the authors of the study, said “male advantage showed in every level of family income, for every level of fathers’ and mothers’ education, and for each and every one of 7 ethnic groups.” This finding was published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence. It also supports earlier studies which used different methods.
A previous study conducted by the University of Ulster at Coleraine, Northern Ireland also found that men consistently did better than women in general knowledge and even in fields thought to be for women such as fashion. The findings were based on two separate studies of 1,500 university students. These studies were done to erase doubts on earlier IQ research including the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) of the 1950’s that showed males have higher intelligence than women. The WAIS method, considered as the father of all IQ tests, was questioned as the small and selected items covered favored only male interests. This result challenged the Irish researchers to formulate a more massive test that included 182 questions covering 19 areas of general knowledge such as politics, sports, arts, music, fashion, science, finance and cooking. And what did they discover? That men still got higher scores than women. According to the Irish researchers this was so because males are more focused on competition with other males especially for power and status the reason why they scored high in current affairs, games, sports, physical health and recreation; while females are more concerned with family.
Other relevant studies that confirmed men’s high IQ compared to women include:
• A 1992 study of 1,261 adults done by C. Davison Ankney proving that men’s brain are 8% heavier than women’s;
• A 1997 study in Denmark saying that men have 15% more neurons (the functional units of the brain) than women.
Meanwhile, a study by the University of California Irvine (UCI) published in NeuroImage found that although there are differences in the brain areas of males and females, no disparities were noted in their general intelligence. The study revealed that women have more white matter while men have more gray matter linked to intellectual skills. The white matter represents the networking of and connections between information processing centers, whereas the gray matter represents the information processing centers of the brain. Authors of the study stressed that this may explain why men excel in tasks that need more local processing such as mathematics while women are good in integrating information such as those required in language skills. It concluded that “no single neuroanatomical structure determines general intelligence and that different types of brain designs can produce equivalent intellectual performance.”
Role of Hormones
Sex hormones have likewise been found to play an important role in brain development and function. They affect the development of certain brain structures in puberty which go on until adulthood. Isn’t it that they call men as “right-brained?” The reason for this is because the right hemisphere of the brain is said to develop more intensely if the fetus is exposed to testosterone early in its development stage. Hormonal changes also affect a person’s cognitive abilities. This is apparent in women throughout their menstrual cycle and seasonally in men as their testosterone levels change.
Unfortunately, while men have higher IQ, their risk of suicide is also at its peak. A study on four IQ tests done in the military service in Sweden showed that the suicide risk was three times higher among those who got the lowest scores while a low risk was noted for those who performed better in the tests. The 26-year study of 487,308 Swedish men found that influences on brain development during childhood increase a person’s susceptibility to mental disorders leading to suicide. It further explained that the risk of suicide is related to a person’s ability to solve problems during crisis or periods of adjustment to traumas experienced during childhood.
On the other hand, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says 75-80% of college students who commit suicide are boys although more are girls. This was concluded because boys are more involved in aggressive and violent behavior compared to girls. Of the boys found to have suicidal tendencies, 95% suffer mental illness especially depression.
Okay, so congratulations first to all men for being confirmed as more intelligent than women. But overall, this latest study should not deter women from excelling in various fields dominated by men. After all, we have several women achievers already around. It’s coexisting harmoniously in this world that matters. It’s not important whether who’s more intelligent than who. It’s how we lead our life, take care of our families and pursue our goals the right and legal way that count.