COGN: Intelligence a sex-linked trait?

Eugene Leitl (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 08:09:43 +0100 (MET)

It seems we have problems at defining intelligence. If we use some
standard metric, like IQ, SAT or whatever (we still haven't heard any
definitive numbers), somebody might argument that these metrics are not
gender-neutral. But by tweaking parameters in a test until men and women
scale equally (instead of a controversary topic as intelligence, let's
consider such simple bodily properties as average height, weight, force
measured by a hand pressure dynamometer) we finally create a caricature
of a test. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems -- the more
problems solved/time, and the more complicated they are, the higher the
intelligence. Instead of hunting animals, gathering berrier and spear our
neighbour future problems Which Matter will come from the scientific/
technological sector.

Currently, we have a dearth of women in such sectors, though those few
who engange in such enterprise usually perform adequately or above average.

Imo, this does not mean that these are the cream de la cream (outer right
fraction of the bell-shaped curve), and that the bulk is substandard. I
rather think that women would do perfectly allright if they were willing
to work really hard, which men do not like either, but do.

_Anecdotal_ evidence. In chemistry the ratio of women to men was roughly
1:1 initially. Because of long hours, lots of work and heaps of new
knowledge being pounded into our heads back then, most of them dropped
out in the first months. Moving to better climes, so to speak. Even more
of them couldn't make the tests, because that required learning dry stuff
for long hours, which they were unwilling to do. Anectdotal evidence
again, personal observations by yours truly. "I can't learn this, it's
too hard."

I do not care whether this stuff is genetically determined, or a product
of the environment. All I see is the result that there are fewer women in
hard sciences (lots of them in molbio, though). Instead of an
equilibration, the trend goes in an opposite direction (at least in
Krautland). Ignoring this for whatever reasons, PCish or otherwise is
not prudent, nor is it constructive. Developing a selective blindness for
a problem does not make it go away.

I am strongly pro equilibration. So let's work towards it, but please do
not claim that women and men are equlibrated now. The gender
specialization _will_ become obsolete after we shed the protein/DNA
matrix, but this is still many decades/centuries off.