Are Boys Smarter Than Girls?

A few weeks ago I was watching a Simpsons episode entitled “Girls Just Wanna Have Sums”, based on the premise that boys are smarter than girls, specifically in math and science.

[part one] [part three]

There have been many studies that have attempted to answer the obvious question. Whether those studies were conducted by men or women is something to consider.

In September 2006 a study revealed that of 100,000 17 to 18-year-olds the male IQ was 3.63 points higher than the females. A UK study claims the difference is as high as 5 points. Dr Irwing, author of the later study, told The Times the differences “may go some way to explaining the greater numbers of men achieving distinctions of various kinds, such as chess grandmasters, Fields medallists for mathematics, Nobel prize-winners and the like”.

My opinion on the matter is a bit ambivalent with a hint of indifference.

The counter arguments don’t seem to be much helpful in drawing any realistic conclusions. Enough time has passed for arguments such as “most math teachers are male and therefore discriminate when teaching”, to fall apart. The other arguments of “IQ tests are no measure of one’s intelligence” also have their flaws. It feels like everyone is prepared to take one and support the result as legitimate as long as it says they’re smart. I also can’t help the obvious observations that the doctor guy in the last paragraph pointed out in addition to Homer Simpson pointing out that men invented the car, brass knuckles, constitutional government and the renaissance. Then again maybe women are just catching up. Such observations are not restricted to a post hoc ergo proctor hoc kind of conclusion.

I honestly don’t care about the topic to the extent of having scientific studies conducted. In this day and age, suggesting men are smarter is by default an indication of stupidity, which is why the title of this post is in the form of a question as opposed to a declarative statement; a very smart move on my part thank you very much. I think it merits some discussion (mostly for entertainment purposes) but at the end of this post the only real conclusion I can draw is that (a) I actually suck at math and science and (b) this Simpsons episode was pretty funny.


  • I think the counter arguments you mentioned are a little stronger than the argument “Boys are smarter that’s why they are grand chess masters” (not because those grandmasters may have been social outcasts when they were boys and had no one else to talk to them but other socially ousted boys?)

    “Enough time has passed for arguments such as â??most math teachers are male and therefore discriminate when teachingâ?, to fall apart.”
    Well, I never took you for a post-feminist. And I strongly disagree! What makes you think that the teachers are not treating boys and girls differently anymore, when it comes to math and science? Even if we take into account that still there is very little interest from girls in enrolling in math and science subjects compared to boys? The gap in enrollment might be because they are bad at it. But you cannot rule out the possibility that there is still discrimination from their environment and upbringing that makes them disinterested in Math and Science. It would be like saying black people in the US are so [poor/criminal/lazy/ or other negative adjective of your choice] because of genetics, not cause of hundred or more years of discrimination.

    Here’s a study I may or may not have referred to before:
    “False stereotypes can affect performance”

    and i thought this is kind of interesting.. gender segregation in school 😛
    “School undertakes math gender experiment”

  • What I find humorous is that most “politically correct” people just can’t admit that men and women are DIFFERENT. So guys generally score higher on math tests. Women are generally better at reading people’s emotions and responding accordingly. God made men and women to compliment each other. But it wouldn’t be “politically correct” to admit that and appreciate it.

  • lksfadljk: i agree that as arguments in your first paragraph are flimsy as such, but as observations they are fairly accurate. As for gender bias, it’s around but not the extent that would render a female incapable of adding and subtracting. and for the most part, yes i believe in much of the western world those biases are now very limited.

    rebecca: i agree with that but i, like you, am not allowed to say it out loud. for all intents and purposes men and women are exactly the same. 😀

  • ohhh Well if its God’s plan, who am I to argue with that. [/sarcasm]

    And there is nothing politically incorrect or any sort of incorrect about saying that men and women are different, But the part that is debatable is which of these differences are nature, nurture or both and to what extent. It’s not about being politically correct, it’s just about what I think is true and what you just think is true.

  • lksfadljk,
    Sorry, I meant no offense. I was not thinking of your comment when I wrote mine. I agree that “nurture” plays a role, I just disagree with people who refuse to see ANY natural difference between men and women, or who try to force them to be the same. (And I’m not saying that you are that kind of person.)

    You have a good point about men having less freedom to admit a gender difference. I never thought about it before. Sad.

  • lksfadljk: nature versus nurture…valid point!

    Rebecca: I do say it out loud every now and then but it’s usually met with a fury of fists by way of my sister

    now i just whisper

  • I don’t think that males or females are smarter than eachother. We all have the capability to learn the things others know. Women have always come second, but that doesn’t mean that they were not just as capable at doing things that men can. I think the only difference between a man and a women is their stuff…if you know what I mean.

  • I think boys are smarter than girls because at my school ( I am very smart but you know sometimes I can be Stupid!! LOL!!) when I say something and it’s totally wrong the boys always know the answer. It’s really weird how it works. So yeah and plus boys like say things better, like communicate then better than girls can. And also boys are really competitive, so that also makes them alot smarter and girls are like competitive about hair. It’s really freakish. but I’m a tomboy so I don’t really care about my hair. It’s always all messed up and crazy. Well not literally but what I mean is it’s not very well done. So to say. Yeah Ya’ll who might know me. PEACE OUT!!!! AND ROCK ON!!!

  • @” but I’m a tomboy so I don’t really care about my hair.”

    ah-huh… are you saying your a hybrid? ummm, like an occupant of a third space?
    so, you’re both smart and stupid at once?

    @ “I am very smart but you know sometimes I can be Stupid!!”
    @”Yeah Ya’ll who might know me. PEACE OUT!!!! AND ROCK ON!!!”

    wow, how you proved your own point which is actually not reflective of any female but… your-own-self!

  • well first of all we is all equal
    and no one KNOWS that girls/guys are the smartest gawd
    u just ASSUME that they r
    and the inventions and most important ppl of the world are men
    that is true
    HOWEVER! only in the past 38 years has women has the rights to hav
    employment, education and others
    it has been proven after only 38 years
    there are a lot of FE male presidents in the world currently
    So if the Women had the same rights as men centuries ago, the whole world wud of been conqured by women
    but no one knows
    and for the guys
    Men, are physically stronger, they can procreate literally hundreds of females with a single male. They have the ability to fight, and fight often and well, and if not for the men the women of this world would not have survived the thousands of years of barbarism this world has gone through. Men, are the muscles, the brawn, the ones behind us who keep you and me (being women) alive and fed. Men are the competitive force, the force of procreation, the elemental force of life. They exist, they strive to breed, and humans not only survive, they thrive.
    So u guys who say
    Of course girls are smarter than boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everybody Knows that!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    by anonymus
    gawd OMG
    so think be4 u speak

  • It all depends on what value one places on human achievements, both in the specific and the broad sense.

    Female contributions, both “traditional” (depending on one’s context, of course) and more “un-traditional,” are generally taken for granted or else explained away as flukes by society at large. This goes for both women and men – women can be just as sexist toward fellow women, mind you.

    Just the fact that the yardstick for measuring intelligence is determined by science and math is enough to make you think.

    The gender stereotype is not the only one that arises here – racist stereotypes are part of the mix as well. We end up with the notion, for example, that “Asian chicks are genetically determined to be good at math.” That’s an argument I hear ALL THE TIME. And yes, it’s racist, because a positive stereotype is still a stereotype.

  • To my perspective both girls and boys are smart but its majority of the girls who are smarter than the boys. Boys is not always into the book, but dont be surprised that a boy can be smarter than girls.

  • no way becuz gir l iz zmarter then boys like to sleep alot and skol…. and slack oneverthing….
    then get away wit it…itz sad..boys are dummm…..thats it.

  • @U NOOBS!, even though it’s been ages since you commented.
    Humans wouldn’t have survived without women, either. I find it fascinating that I have a little machine inside for making more of me 🙂 but that doesn’t mean I get pregnant at every available opportunity. I wonder how men and women rank on common sense– and if not for the women the men of this world would not have survived the thousands of years of barbarism this world has gone through ’cause they would’ve all ran up to hug sabre tooth tigers on dares.
    It’s too bad there isn’t a scientific test for common sense. That’s one comparison of Boys vs. Girls I’d like to know.

  • So what if you can do equations better than me? Who cares? As if being good in maths was the only indicator of intelligence! What about being extremely good at languages, writing, poetry? But of course, that doesn’t count because they’re not science. I met a lot of people very good with numbers, who lacked any sense of irony, sarcasm or just plain sense of humor.

Your Two Piasters: