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Should We Celebrate That IQ Tests Show Women Are Smarter?

Intelligence expert John Flynn says that when it comes to IQ, for the first time in history, the ladies are on top.

One of the world's top intelligence experts, John Flynn, a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of Otago in New Zealand, says his latest round of research reveals that for the first time ever women around the globe are outscoring men on IQ tests.

Flynn told ABC News he gave 500 men and 500 women between the ages of 15 and 18 from Argentina, Australia, Estonia, New Zealand, and South Africa, Raven’s Progressive Matrices IQ test, a multiple choice abstract reasoning test which is frequently used here in the United States to assess whether a student qualifies for gifted education. In previous years women's scores on the test were as much as five points below their male peers. But over the past few years, everyone's IQ scores have been on the rise and women have seen the greatest increases.

So does Flynn's announcement mean that we should be celebrating that women are officially smarter than men? Not exactly. Intelligence isn't a quantifiable quality and IQ test results aren't actually representative of someone's intellectual ability. Don't forget that they've been used for years to justify racist ideology—indeed, you'd have to be pretty sexist to believe that simply because women's results were lower in previous years that that meant men were inherently smarter than women.

Instead what these results suggest is that the saying that an IQ test only measures how well someone can take that particular IQ test is true. Even Flynn attributes the rise in scores to greater access to modernity. "In every country where women have an equal chance of modernity" women have caught up to men's IQ test results, he says.

"As we enter the modern worlds, our minds change just as our automobiles have changed," Flynn says. "Where women can have an equal chance to interface with the modern world, they equal on IQ and surpass on academic performance." Essentially, women have always had the ability to score well on IQ tests. Being more educated and having more diverse life experiences and opportunities is what's helping them demonstrate it. Perhaps the real question is, why are people still paying attention to IQ tests like they actually tell us something legitimate?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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