Men are stupid. And men are geniuses. It’s okay to say the first thing, but not the second. Both are true, however, and the same goes for women.
Women and men are equally intelligent. Though men have historically scored higher on IQ tests, just as whites score higher than blacks, cultural factors rather than innate abilities were identified as the cause. And the IQ gap between men and women has now disappeared. Though this hasn’t stopped the media from misreporting that women are smarter than men due to a recent study showing a 0.5 to 1 point difference, which is statistically insignificant.
Greater IQ variability among males – more guys at both the bottom and top of IQ distributions, with more females in the middle – has some support, though there’s no consensus. One Harvard study claims this variability is true except for “reading comprehension, perceptual speed, and associative memory”, while another study found greatest male variability with math.
Risk taking isn’t about intelligence, though we usually associate losses with stupidity. And under stress, men increase risk taking while women become more cautious. Further, men are particularly open to risk when it means attracting women.
Greater risks yield greater rewards, however – and greater losses. A man who loses is stupid, while a great reward is often attributed to male privilege.
Imagine the first guy who looked at the moon and said, “Bet I can get up there”. A woman overhearing that may have thought, “Men are stupid”. And indeed, men died in the quest to reach the moon. But men also succeeded. Women only ventured into space after men had already figured out how to get there and back safely.
Part of this is due to men barring women from the space program in the 1950s and ’60s under the guise of protecting women from harm. But part of it has to do with women knowing they can benefit from rewards men earn without similar risks. For example, men earn more than women for a variety of reasons, including men performing riskier jobs (and being 9 out of 10 workplace deaths). But women spend the majority of consumer dollars.
Higher risk tolerance is not a sign of less intelligence. Instead, one’s skill with risk demonstrates one’s intelligence level.