Gender Gaps in Academia

I ran into a discussion on the average IQ plot of students by gender ratio the other day. The plot is attached here and follow this link for the original post.


An interesting and obvious “fact” from this plot seems to be that the more women a major has, the lower average IQ the students from that major have; thus men are smarter than women. But, assuming that the statistics are accurate (which probably are not and have some kind of sampling bias), we should not forget that correlation is NOT causation.

For example, in an experiment conducted by Katherine Milkman, Module Akinola, and Dolly chugh (look at the New York Times report on this), they sent more than 6500 randomly selected professors from 259 American universities from fictional prospective students for Ph.D. program seeking. And it turned out that professors were more responsive to white male students than to female, black, Hispanic, Indian or Chinese students in almost EVERY discipline and across all types of universities. And that the lower the percentage of the minorities (including women) in a discipline, the less responsive the professors to the minorities were. This could be one of the potential reasons for the less representative of women in technology and science.

Also, since 1970, the percentage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has actually been increasing from 7% to 26% in 2011 according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. The situation is continuously changing with the liberation of women going on.

In conclusion, this plot is worth discussing but DOES NOT mean that men are smarter than women. Let’s continue striving for making our higher education more inclusive and prejudice-free.

Thanks to the post by Yuguangtongchen on Zhihu (Chinese Quora) to inspire me on this post. 

5 thoughts on “Gender Gaps in Academia”

  1. You are absolutely right! Men are not smarter than women and it is actually wrong to associate intelligence with sex. It is a norm that has existed as you rightly commented on the example from the college acceptance. Actually, women do a very good job in balancing family and academic life.

  2. It was a very intersting post. I think you are right, the
    lower the percentage of the minorities (including women) in a discipline, the less responsive the professors to the minorities are. So, the whole community should care about women and education of women in STEM to see a change in the number of female students in these disciplines and eventually once the women got enough confident we will see the change in future plots.

  3. Wow, this graph is really fascinating. I agree that it’s important to not jump to conclusions about this information. When I first saw this graph and noticed engineering and physics in the top left corner, I initially thought that it wasn’t fair because women haven’t been encouraged to be a part of these fields until recent years. I would imagine that if we revisit this data in a few years it may look a lot different.

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