According to new research published in Advances in Physiology Education, men tend to significantly overestimate their own intelligence whereas women only marginally overestimate theirs. The architect of this study, Katelyn Cooper, a doctoral student at Arizona State University, believes this helps explain why fewer women embark on PhDs in the life sciences and why there are fewer tenured female professors in STEM fields. She also thinks it partly explains why women are less likely to rise to the top of their chosen professions.
I’m not so sure about that, but first a mea culpa. I used to think I was smarter than my wife. However, after being married to Caroline for more than 16 years I’m finding it harder and harder to cling on to this illusion. For instance, she’s much better than me at Scrabble. I initially told myself she was just lucking out, drawing better tiles than me, but that excuse had a limited shelf-life. I then thought it was because she’d had more practice than me. She had played it with her parents growing up, after all, and knew lots of fiendish little words like Qi. But over time, as I got more practice, that excuse began to fade too. I now refuse to play with her, saying I find Scrabble ‘boring’. That also applies to Boggle and Bananagram and — surprise, surprise — any games that are a test of raw intelligence. (To read more, click here.)