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To Which Extent Are Sex and Intelligence Interrelated?

There is a difference in the distribution of the cognitive skills between the two genders, that is the male and the female gender. The research about sex and intelligence has been conducted for a long time raising several controversies and interesting findings. When analyzing the issue of sex and intelligence there are a number of variables that are focused on. One of the variables is the differences in the individual skills because the individual skills of a person can to a certain extent be used as a measure of intelligence. The other variable that is focused on during the research is the overall cognitive ability (Yeo 118).

According to scientific evidence, there are very minimal differences between the overall average abilities of the male and the female gender but scientists maintain that males overshadow the females when it comes to intelligence. There were scientific theories in the early years of the last decade that postulated that sex and intelligence did not have any relationship. The scientists in this period led by Jackson Rushton had commonly agreed that sex had no role in the determination of intelligence.

However, the American Psychological Association recently performed research that really disputed the early twentieth century findings. The initial study was to investigate intelligence among the different social classes but ended up studying the sexes also. This study indicates that there is a very wide IQ difference between male and female human beings. However, the standard research holds that men beat women in IQ by not more than four points as the APA had put it.

In the real sense, there is IQ variance between men and women. Interestingly, men are the ones that are in the extreme ends in performance when IQ tests are administered. When particular abilities are gauged, the level of performance of the two sexes varies with the variables measured (Terman 56). There are some abilities that when measured, naturally favor the men and disadvantage the women and these cannot be used as standard IQ measures.

This means that to establish the real difference in intelligence between the sexes, several tests, not just IQ tests should be used. Looking at specific abilities, there was a study conducted two years ago by the National Science Foundation and this study indicated that the male and the female students perform almost the same way in a mathematics test that has been standardized. Research conducted thirty years ago has shown that boys perform better than girls in mathematics, but the situation has since changed and their performance now is at par (Garcia 30).

The reason why there was a difference is that, thirty years ago, the girls shied away from the courses in advanced mathematics but nowadays, the girls are competing with the boys in advanced mathematics. When a test is administered, boys tend to score the highest marks in mathematics but at the lower end, you will also find boys meaning that the girls will not be found at the extremes. This is the scenario that manages to level the performance between the boys and the girls.

The difference in intelligence between the males and the females can also be looked at from an angle of spatial abilities. In tasks that are visual-spatial, the men outscored the women by far (Bleichrodt 285). These visual-spatial tasks involve things such as mental rotation and other tasks that involve visual ability (Kimura 78). The difference between the males and the females in these spatial abilities becomes more evident during adolescence, though there are controversies that have been raised regarding the findings. There is a school of scientists that argue that these differences are too minimal to impact the intelligence variance but most scientists believe that the male gender has an upper hand when it comes to the performance of the visual tasks.

When it comes to memory, the female gender has been found to have a greater proficiency in memory especially the way they rely on the landmarks that are there on the ground to help them to navigate around (Burt 50). The male gender lags behind the female when it comes to memory and this is evident when it comes to navigations skills where the men tend to use the mental map generally instead of the landmarks on the ground. Women have an advantage over men when it comes to short and medium-term memory.

Physical brain parameters have also been sued to explain the differences between the intelligence of males and females. Scientists have established that the average brain of a female is more than 120 grams heavier than that of the males (Kimura 56). Using this parameter, then it is almost unlikely to get the difference between the intelligence of the men and the women, but generally, the parameter tends to give men the advantage on intelligence (Richard 3).

The other parameter that has been used to try and establish the intelligence differences between men and women is the genetic make-up of both genders. The role of testosterone in males and androgen in females has been given considerable attention (Irwing 29). Studies indicate a correlation between the high performance of boys in tasks of spatial abilities and the presence of testosterone. Though the relationship between this performance and the presence of testosterone is complex, scientists have agreed that testosterone gives men an advantage because it boosts their performance in most of the variables that are used to measure intelligence.

Sexual morphism is another parameter that scientists have used to explain the differences in intelligence between men and women. The intellectual abilities of the males are believed to have developed in the process of their day-to-day activities like hunting that they were chiefly involved in as they evolved through history. For the women, their capability in memory can also be explained through sexual morphism whereby as the women devoted their mental structures to activities like a gathering of food and managing relationships in the family, so did their mental capability grow better (Benbow 414).

The last parameter that can be used to explain the intellectual differences between men and women is socialization. The way in which boys and girls have been socialized as they evolved through history has the capability to create intellectual differences. For example, for a long time, girls have been discouraged from venturing into math and sciences while boys have been discouraged from being empathetic and the two factors could have an implication on the development of certain intellectual capabilities in both genders.

In conclusion, the debate about the role of sexuality is still raging with a group of scientists claiming that the difference between the intelligence of the men and that of the women is quite insignificant, while another one maintains that there is a considerable difference in the intelligence levels between the two genders giving the men the positive advantage. However, most studies establish that the intelligence of a man is usually higher than that of a woman, though the women beat the men in some intelligence variables.

Works Cited

Bleichrodt, Flier, “Cross-cultural comparison of sex-related differences on intelligence tests”. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 18: (1987) 283–314..

Benbow, Charles. “Sex differences and lateralization in temporal lobe glucose metabolism during mathematical reasoning”. Dev Neuropsychology. 11: (1995) 405–414.

Burt, Craig. The mental difference between the sexes. NY: Sage. 1992.

Irwing, Richard. “Sex differences in general knowledge”. Intelligence 30 (2002): 27–40.

García, Juan. “Null Sex Differences in General Intelligence” Spanish Journal of Psychology 5 (2002): 29–35.

Kimura, Doreen. Sex and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 1999.

Kimura, Doreen. The relationship between testosterone levels and cognitive ability patterns. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 1991

Richard, Neil “Sex differences in intelligence and brain size: a developmental theory”. Intelligence 27(2002) 1–12.

Terman, Lewis. The measurement of intelligence: an explanation of and a complete guide for the use of the Stanford revision and extension of the Binet- Simon intelligence scale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1996.

Yeo, Jung. The neuroanatomy of general intelligence: sex matters: New Jersey, Prentice hall. 1999.


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