IQ test: Women are now scoring higher than men

IQ test: Women are now scoring higher in IQ tests than men, reports one of the world's foremost intelligence researchers.

Steve Helber/AP
William & Mary professor Elizabeth Harbron displays vials with merocyanine and rhodamine dye in her lab in Williamsburg, Va. With two-thirds of all undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of master's degrees now going to women, many believe it's only a matter of time before that women dominate the upper echelons of the "STEM" fields - science, technology, engineering and math.

Are people getting smarter? According to the latest research, women sure are.

New research by intelligence expert James Flynn shows that women in the West have pulled ahead of men in IQ testing.

While both genders’ IQ scores have improved over the last century, women’s scores have risen faster and have now surpassed those of men.

Historically, women lagged slightly behind men on IQ tests, but over the last century, according to Flynn, an increase in IQ scores has been seen around the world. This long-term generational increase, first noted in the 1980s, is known as the “Flynn Effect.”

Flynn, emeritus professor of psychology and philosophy at New Zealand’s University of Otago, attributes the rise to modern living.

“Over the last 100 years, everyone in the developing world has been gaining about three IQ points, but women have been gaining faster,” Flynn said in an interview with ABC News. “This is the result of modernity. In every country where women have an equal chance of modernity, women have caught men [in IQ testing].”

Flynn has not published his research yet; it will be released in a new book he is writing called, “Are We Getting Smarter?” His data came from samples of the Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ test, which is commonly used for measuring intelligence. His subjects were between the ages 10 and 30.

Flynn says that the challenges of balancing a career and raising a family may be one reason for the increase. Or perhaps women may have always had the potential to score better on IQ tests, but are only now receiving adequate access to education.

Not only did Flynn find women to be more intelligent than men, but, according to his research, women are now also surpassing men academically. Female high school students who scored above a 100 on their IQ tests got As and Bs, while male students with the same IQ got Bs and Cs.

While it may seem that women now have the advantage intellectually – more women are now being accepted into universities than men, and women are now earning more master's degrees – Flynn cautioned that the genders simply have different sorts of intelligence.

“[Women are] surpassing them academically because of certain character traits,” Flynn told the Toronto Star

He said men tend to be better spatially, while women are better verbally, perhaps making women better adapted to formal education.

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