Erasmus University study claiming men are more intelligent than women lambasted by science journalist

David Maclean
Thursday 27 July 2017 16:53 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A new study has been criticised for suggesting that women are less intelligent than men.

Scientists concluded that men’s average intelligence quotient (IQ) is four points above women’s because their brains are typically larger.

But using IQ – which relies largely on symbolic logic – is a controversial measure of intelligence, as it's harder to apply to everyday life.

British neuroscientist Dr Adrian Owen has previously called IQ assessments "pretty meaningless".

The latest study was carried out by Erasmus University in Rotterdam and reignites the controversial debate about how to measure intelligence.

Historical bigotry has seen women denied the right to vote and own property, often on the basis that their brains were physically smaller, leading to the incorrect assumption that they are less intelligent.

But author and science journalist Angela Saini says this is not the case, and the latest study is part of a long-running attempt by male neuroscientists to undermine women.

Ms Saini, who has written a book on how science underestimated the intelligence of women, told The Sunday Times: "It is scientifically well established that there is no difference on average in general intelligence between women and men.

"It's also well known that women have, on average, slightly smaller brains than men because they are, on average, slightly smaller in size. This paper does not disprove these facts.

"For more than 100 years, male anatomists and neuroscientists have sought to find evidence of women's intellectual inferiority by comparing their brains to those of men.

"It's surprising that in the 21st century those efforts haven't ended."

Van der Linden and his colleagues used detailed MRI scans of people aged between 22 and 37 to measure the volume of their brains and the areas of their cerebral cortex which are linked to conscious thoughts and actions.

The IQ of each participant was also measured. The team found that men had an average brain volume of 1.2 litres compared with 1 litre for women, and that people with bigger brains had slightly higher IQ scores.

However, some studies have shown that EQ – emotional intelligence – is a more effective indicator of success in the workplace and wider life. Women typically score higher than men on this measure.

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