In all the brouhaha about diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and woke politics, the fact that there are real, observable differences between the sexes is often overlooked. This is particularly the case when it comes to the “intelligence quotient” or IQ.
Everything else under the sun has been mentioned, over and over again, as an explanation for why there is a disparity between gender groups in terms of their employment in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), computer science, business entrepreneurship, wealth creation, etc.
Intelligence doesn’t get talked about often due to the controversial nature of the topic. Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, to be sure, in their 1994 book: The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, more than just discussed IQ. But we see what happened to the latter (the former passed away in 1994). He has become persona non grata pretty much everywhere that counts; hounded from college campuses, reviled by Hollywood, the pulpit, major newspapers, and mass media.
But one can’t understand the truth about gender differences without understanding the role of intelligence.
As groups, men and women have virtually the same average IQs, but their standard deviations are wildly different. Females are clustered toward the mean while males are spread out all over the entire spectrum. Plenty of men are located within one or two standard deviations of the mean, having average intelligence, but quite a few, too, are located above or below the three- and even four-standard-deviation level, meaning there are more outlier males who are quite smart and more who are not so much. Females tend more toward the average of their gender; it is the rare female who escapes the gravity of the mean.
This is why we find far more men than women who are homeless or living in mental institutions and jails. But a similar phenomenon prevails, too, at the other end of this distribution. Women are far less proportionately represented than men amongst Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, and economics. Far fewer women than men receive the Fields medal in mathematics, and far fewer become chess grandmasters, presidents or prime ministers, baroque composers, top surgeons and lawyers. There are some who have broken past this glass ceiling—Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir—but they are few and far between.
This will sound horrible to many. It implies that young women are consigned to lives of professional mediocrity. But the logical implication is not that no females can rise to the top of their callings; it is, rather, that fewer of them will be able to do so, compared to their male counterparts.
Differences such as these are often chalked up to cultural sexism, but the reality is that such imbalance is most likely biological. It is almost as if men are nature’s crapshoot, while women are assigned the role of insurance. Consider the biological role of women to give birth, and what it would have done to the population throughout history if the grouping of women around the mean were reversed. The population would be in trouble. More women at the extreme low end of the IQ curve would mean more that are not capable of bringing up the next generation. They would have been too busy occupying the mental institutions, jails, or living homeless on the street. More genius women on the extreme high end of the IQ would mean more drawn into demanding professions and less available for motherhood.
Suppose that what I’ve said about male versus female IQ distribution is correct. Is it better to share this information with women so they are cognizant of it? Or to keep it from them by cancelling all who espouse it, and to let women continue to think they are kept out of top jobs because of sexism? At present, we seem to be adopting the latter course of action.
Unlike the West, the Chinese aren’t burdened by woke theories of gender imbalances caused by alleged sexism. We are, therefore weakening ourselves in competition with them if we continue promoting these ideas. Furthermore, if there must be 50 percent of females in the America’s laboratories to ensure fairness, instead of this proportion being determined on the basis of merit, accomplishments, and skill, then our quest to cure COVID, cancer, and other such diseases will become just that much more unlikely.
If young girls are acquainted with these biological facts, they will be less likely to blame their lack of equal success with males on systemic sexism. According to that famous aphorism: “The truth shall set you free.” Maybe so, maybe not. Regardless, the original goal of science is to move us that proverbial one millionth of an inch closer to the Truth with a capital T, regardless of threats from snowflake wokesters. The credo of physicians is “First, do no harm.” The equivalent for intellectuals would be: First, tell the truth.
Walter Block is an economics professor at Loyola University and a Mises Institute senior fellow. He is author of several classic books on libertarian ethics, including Defending the Undefendable (1976), and was named one of the 100 most influential philosophers in the world by AcademicInfluence.com.