Frances B. is a publicist for the Press, and her opinions are her own.
James R. Flynn first made headlines for the Flynn effect—i.e, the finding that there has been a massive increase in IQ test scores between successive generations. Yet this past summer summer, his research turned heads again with his eye-opening data on women’s rapidly rising IQ. After nearly a hundred years of lagging behind men’s IQ scores, sometimes by as much as five points, women have not only closed the gap, but in many cases are surpassing men. His provocative finding sparked a flurry of debate, and re-ignited (yet again) the “battle” between the sexes.
As part of the so-called Millenial generation, I can’t say I was particularly surprised by such data—I was more caught off-guard that it hadn’t been confirmed earlier. From a very early age I was instilled with the belief that girls should strive for any career they set their minds on, and my female peers and I were rather spoiled for choice when it came to female role models, both in the home and outside of it. From Madeleine Albright to Ruth Bader Ginsburg to even (no shame) the Spice Girls, we were surrounded with one message: Go for it. And I saw evidence of this every stage of my education, where the girls in my classes regularly demonstrated they were willing to work harder and longer than our male peers.
But even if there’s incontrovertible data that women’s IQ scores are rapidly rising, there’s still the very real concern that their IQ is taken for granted.
We’re well into the 21st century, yet clearly there’s much more work to be done in order to empower smart, dedicated women to pursue the careers they want. It’s been proven that women are entering higher education in record numbers: Women are outnumbering men on college campuses, and more are pursuing graduate education, especially PhDs. But according to recent studies, more than ever women are forced to make a choice between their hard-earned career paths and their families. For instance, a report entitled “Keeping Women in the Science Pipeline” revealed that married women with young children are 35% less likely to enter a tenure track position after receiving their PhD’s in science than men.
Furthermore, regardless of different fields, it seems women’s abilities on the job—especially in top positions—are still questioned. When Marissa Mayer was named CEO of Yahoo! earlier this year, more people talked about the fact that she was working throughout her pregnancy than her extensive experience and future vision for the company.
Flynn’s findings offer welcome evidence that women do have the brains, but it’s high time the rest of society catches up. Businesses and organizations in every field need to do more to ensure women actually realize their potential. Then we’ll all be smarter off for it.