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  • The stereotype that men are smarter than women has a long history.

  • But in the battle of the sexes,

  • who actually has the superior intellect when it comes down to it?

  • Are boys smarter than girls?

  • Early studies showed that male brains are 8-13% larger in volume than female brains.

  • However, this has since been attributed to differences in body size.

  • Women's brains have more gyrification or brain folding,

  • and as a result, a greater cortical surface area.

  • Besides, bigger isn't always better.

  • Sperm whales, elephants and dolphins

  • all have larger brains than humans,

  • and while they are smart, their cognitive abilities are less than our own.

  • There are other structural differences though,

  • like males having more connections within hemispheres,

  • while women have more connections between hemispheres.

  • But overall, MRI brain imaging shows significant overlap in the physical structure between the sexes.

  • After studying 1400 brains, and comparing the sexes,

  • researchers found that mostly all men and women show

  • a mosaic of female and male typical structures in the brain.

  • The study also evaluated gender stereotypical behaviors,

  • like how video games are often considered male behavior,

  • while scrapbooking is female.

  • And the results found only 0.1% of test subjects displayed only male or only female typical behaviors.

  • Tests on intelligence find similar results with major IQ studies showing

  • negligible or no sex differences in general intelligence,

  • but do show women having stronger verbal abilities,

  • while men show stronger visual spacial abilities.

  • Interestingly, studies show more male variance in tests,

  • with their scores being both the worst and the best.

  • One meta-analysis of 22 studies did find men to be 3.3-5.5 IQ points above women,

  • but this study has been called into question by academics

  • who found the methodology flawed.

  • In the academic performance of language, math and science,

  • women consistently received better grades in 70% of nations.

  • But on SAT testing in the US, men scored 33 points higher in math and science.

  • Other tests, like the program for International Student Assessment,

  • show both sexes performing equally in several countries,

  • with girls performing better in some, like Iceland,

  • suggesting cultural and environmental differences

  • and not necessarily biological differences at play.

  • But researchers found that stereotypes about women's performance

  • actually impact how well they do.

  • When told that a particular math test had significant gender differences,

  • women performed significantly worse than their male peers,

  • while women who were told there was no difference scored the same.

  • This phenomenon is known as the "stereotype threat".

  • Even Google search data shows that parents are 2.5 times more likely to search

  • "Is my son gifted?" than "Is my daughter gifted?"

  • despite 11% more girls in gifted programs in America.

  • And girls pick up on these biases as early as six years old.

  • When told story at age 5, about a person who is really really smart,

  • both boys and girls associate intelligence with their own gender.

  • But by age 6, both girls and boys picked a male character as the smartest.

  • In a similar experiment, kids were asked if they wanted to play a game for people who are really really smart.

  • And again, at age 5, both sexes wanted to play,

  • but by age 6, girls had decided these games weren't for them.

  • And though women do try to work in STEM fields,

  • studies show they face barriers.

  • In a double-blind study,

  • science faculty from research universities graded applications for a lab manager position.

  • What they didn't know,

  • is that the applications were randomly assigned either male or female names.

  • As a result, faculty perceived the male appplicant names to be

  • significantly more competent, hirable and deserving of mentoring,

  • even though the applications with female names were identical.

  • Males were also offered higher starting salaries,

  • an average of $30,000 v.s. the females' $26,000.

  • Though these studies present a sobering reality,

  • research does point to greater equality between the sexes with passing decades and education.

  • And in spite of these barriers, women continue to contribute to our collective scientific knowledge.

  • Rosaline Franklin allowed us to understand our own DNA.

  • Katherine Johnson helped Apollo 11 land on the moon.

  • And this year, Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for mathematics.

  • Fellow mathematician, Izabella Laba, said,

  • Mirzakhani's selection does exactly nothing to convince me that women are capable of doing mathematical research at the same level as men.

  • I have never had any doubt about that in the first place

  • What I take from it instead is that we as a society, men and women alike, are becoming better at encouraging and nurturing mathematical talent in women, and more capable of recognizing excellence in women's work.

  • To learn more, we asked the women at AsapScience to speak personally about their experiences growing up

  • and give insights into how they navigate the societal pressures of being a woman.

  • Click on the screen or the link in the description to check out that video.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos every Thursday.

The stereotype that men are smarter than women has a long history.

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Are Boys Smarter Than Girls?

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    missnerdypants posted on 2017/03/25
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