The controversial, endless debate over whether men or women are the smarter sex has received a shot in the arm, thanks to researcher James Flynn, whose study observed that women in certain developed countries were outperforming men in IQ tests. It throws out of gear the accepted background emergent since 1905 onwards where males were regarded to have had the upper hand while women lagged behind by up to five points.
The findings were collected from research done on 500 men and 500 women each (between 15 and 18 years) in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Estonia and Argentina on the scores of the standard IQ test, called the Raven test. The results will be published in Flynn’s book, which is set for a September release. He is also collecting more IQ patterns to explain the trend.
Flynn has attributed this bridging of the gap to a range of factors, be it women having better educational opportunities nowadays and being better prepared for these exams to how women have to juggle the demands of family and career, making them more intelligent. He also stated that the complexity of the modern world could also have a part to play in this.
The multiple dimensions of IQ
Clinical and School Psychologist Dr Seema Darode, who has been counselling and conducting aptitude tests for two decades in Mumbai, believes that males and females have their strengths and weaknesses: “IQ is multi-dimensional so one cannot generalise. But I have seen that males tend to have a higher mechanical intelligence while females have a higher Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ).”
Dr Darode also agrees that the multi-tasking that women end up doing does stimulate the brain, “...but then, for males and females, there are many brain stimulating activities to boost the IQ. Over the years, there has been a rise in IQ levels observed all over the world,” she reasons.
IQ tests still have many takers according to the doctor: “IQ tests help children zero in on what to do next. We also follow up the tests with counselling and psychotherapy.” She tells us that previously, there wasn’t sufficient awareness about these tests and that the number of requests for these has increased in these times.
Ria Sakraney, Mentor at educational consulting agency OnCourse Global, seconds Dr Darode’s learnings, “Most of our clients are studying in 9 to 12 standards. We have noticed that females are more attuned to smaller details and are more diligent while males are more casual about details. Women also have greater access to education which does boost their IQ levels,” she says.
She adds that a typical aptitude test involves 8-10 sections, which can be tested in 1.5 hours or in 3 hours. “Around four sections are in verbal problems, four are on math-related problems and around two sections are on design and diagrams to test abstract and spatial skills. Once the results
are out, we organise a meeting with parents to offer a report sheet and comprehensive guidance,” she states.
Sakraney maintains that while there are other competitive tests, IQ tests are always preferred over the rest because they are broader in scope and tests the knowledge that one already possesses (there’s no need to study for it). “Aptitude tests benefit students and adults who are confused about suitable career choices and opportunities ahead,” she observes.
The road ahead
Dr Sarala Bijapurkar, Associate Professor of Sociology at the KJ Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce, feels that the study is heartening news for women. “Women have to work harder than men to prove themselves; men have it much easier. Both IQ and EQ ultimately deal with life skills that determine success. What works in women’s favour is that they have to essay multiple roles and have to work harder to prove their capability and intelligence; in case of men these factors are often taken for granted. In a way, we have seen a similar phenomena in the SSC and HSC results where girls frequently do better than boys,” she says, admitting that while this is comforting news, much still needs to be done to fight male prejudices, in the bigger picture.
Tips to boost IQ
> Read books that are mentally challenging such as classics.
> Early to bed and early to rise will keep one mentally active and help focus better. Taking short naps also helps in rejuvenation.
> Keep time for introspection, which will help one to prioritise and boost concentration.
> Exercise helps keep the mind sharp and helps raise IQ by increasing the density of the hippocampus region of the brain and in boosting blood circulation.
> Meditation is also recommended for mental sharpness.
> Role-playing, such as play-acting a tricky situation, can boost visualisation and help come up with new ideas and solutions.
Did you know?
K Vishalini from Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is a Standard Eight student who boasts of the highest IQ in the world. She will be eligible for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records after she turns 14. Her IQ score is in the range of 225.
Children from Mumbai score better on memory skills than the world average as was found after a 2009 study of more than 200 children using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) according to findings published in the Bombay Psychologist.
Mensa is a high IQ society that provides a forum for intellectual exchange among its members. There are 1,00,000 members in more than 100 countries around the world. Activities include the exchange of ideas through lectures, discussions, journals, special-interest groups, and local, regional, national and international gatherings. The word Mensa means “mind” and “table” in Latin. The name stands for a round-table society, where race, colour, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social background are irrelevant.