The Truth About Gender IQ Differences

4 min

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.


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Walter Block

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

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Another measure would be the Kersey Temperament Survey showing a spread...not dealing with the two genders but rather difference of giftings that are required for a society. Between the IQ tests and Temperament Survey kind of reminds me of the 5 classes of citizens in Brave New World produced on the assembly lines. But the IQs and Temperaments are natural showing clever design by a Designer


While I was preparing for classes, I read the results of research which showed that in cultures where women are more constrained, like some Arabic cultures, they have a strong desire to go into STEM fields because they see it as a way to improve their lives. In cultures which are more egalitarian, such as Sweden, they are more likely to go into more nurturing fields such as teaching and nursing.


Many good's points here. Personally, I've never thought about the differences in gender IQ and how it plays a role in all that's going on. The spectrum you described sounds logical. I'm not sure if it's correct to compare gender IQ spectrum results to a ratio of genders in specialized fields like medicine, as a commented. For example to say that "...women now occupy one- third of the medical profession ..." could also be saying that not as many males want to make this their profession. This would account for there being more women in the field.


Thanks for your comment. I agree. I've been in health care for nearly 50 years and have observed that in the past being a doctor was seen as a "power profession." Status and control were part and parcel of the profession. As times changed and we now have shared decision making as well as lower incomes and status males have left to pursue other fields. This is not at all bad. More women have certainly been an aid to a field where caring, and intuition play a major role in day to day patient care.
swamp yankee
Let's not forget that there was a time when it was pretty much universally accepted that women did not have the brainpower to be lawyers, judges, pilots, engineers, physicists, doctors. We now know that this isn't so. What else might we be wrong about? The percentage of practicing physicians in this country (and elsewhere in the world), for example, who are female has been steadily rising over the decades, from virtually none in the early 20th century to now, when more than a third of practicing physicians in the US are female, the ratio even higher in younger age groups, and for the first time, more than half of medical students are female. If female brainpower were the limited resource the article suggests, then wouldn't women making it through the rigors of medical school and becoming physicians be relatively rare?


I don't think you understand the article. A) you don't need a genius IQ to become a doctor. B) you do to win the Nobel Prize in medicine. Many, many women clustered around the top side of the mean will have the intellectual equipment to enter and graduate medical school. Relatively fewer will have the extreme intelligence to make original and ground-breaking contributions in medical science. On the other hand, there are more male morons, imbeciles, and criminally insane than there are females.
Medical schools actively discriminate against men, and for women, for the sake of diversity quotas official and unofficial. That is not to say that a female physician is necessarily less competent than a male physician, but that some females are physicians because of their sex.
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L. Alvarez, W. Shockley (rejects of Terman’s study), J. Watson and R. Feynman IQ’s to low to be admitted to Mensa, all 4 are Nobel Prize winners. None of Terman’s genius subjects (1578 total) ever won a Nobel Prize. There is a misunderstanding between IQ and knowledge. IQ is a good measure of how easily a person can learn something new, but not a predictor of what a person’s positive impact on the world might be, or the depth of their knowledge in a field they passionately pursue.
swamp yankee
No, you don't need to be a genius to get through medical school, but you definitely need to be well above "average." If, as the article says, it's a rare woman who escapes the "mean," then it would be a rare woman who gets through medical school, or any other discipline that requires a damned good brain. While there may be more male geniuses than female geniuses, they are quite rare for either gender, representing 1% to 2% of the population, depending on the IQ threshold deemed "genius-level.
I think that if highly intelligent people of either sex or any race, can meet the criteria for entry into an occupation, they should be able to choose or do that. BUT, if qualifications are "adjusted", "modified", or lowered to accommodate people that would otherwise not be able to enter that occupation, they they are not as capable or intelligent as previous people who met the qualifications.
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The author is like a dog with a bone, he sees something he likes, the assertion men have the capacity for higher IQ's than women do. Then, he boils complex societal issues down simply to IQ.


swamp yankee
And he loves the idea that girls, when it's explained to them that they're just not apt to be as bright as the brightest boys, will happily and with relief accept that limitation and let go of all these silly notions about sexism. 100-plus years ago, that supposed intellectual limitation was axiomatic. We now know, thanks to female determination, that we were mistaken. Where's his admiration?