Who is Smarter? – He or She or Both

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A. (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D. Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

Mrs Sudha Rani Maheshwari, M.Sc (Zoology), B.Ed. Former Principal. A.K.P.I.College, Roorkee, India


“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

― Gloria Steinem


It is a question that has been asked in many different ways, in multiple contexts ‘ which is the smarter sex’- male or female?’ .The question has a long and turbulent history entangled with belief about the appropriate roles of males and females. The question of whether female or male are smarter presupposes that it can be answered with the valid comparison can be made  that ‘ female’ ,’male’ or ‘neither’ are the possible answer.

More significant than differences in male and female intelligence, according to Anne Anastasi, is the immense amount of overlap. She reminds us of Samual Jhonson’s reply when asked whether man or woman was more intelligent; “ which man, which woman” . This view  challenges our stereotypes of men and women. In fact, much evidence points to the wide individual differences found within each sex.


The overall IQ scores of boys and girls are very similar. There is some evidence that sex differences exist for particular kinds of cognitive abilities Review of a number of studies has shown that females are superior in language skills, verbal fluency, and reading, while males are superior in mathematical reasoning and spatial abilities (Oetzel, 1966). While neither sex is sup the two sexes show different patterns of intellectual abilities.

These have been supported by several researchers. Some argue that intellectual differences between sexes reflect different child-rearing practice; socio-cultural training. The parents and the society train boys and differently in terms of what to expect from them. It is known that intelligence related to personality characteristics.


Boys are socialized in a way so promote self-reliance and competence, which are positively correlate intelligence. On the other hand, the traits are discouraged in girls so mi that high intelligence is often considered a masculine quality.

The sex differences also partly result from the fact that many items standardized intelligence tests are biased in favor of the male population. Hence sex differences are the products of the test itself. Researchers differ in their convictions regarding sex differences. A group of researchers that sex differences are reflections of constitutional and genetic difference between males and females. The most reasonable conclusion is that differential abilities are the products of some combination of genetic and environmental factors.

In the light of these intellectual differences it is interesting to compare performance of the sexes on the standardized achievement test and their school performance.

Type Characteristics Female Male Both
Logical-mathematical intelligence Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations.  It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns.  . 



  • Organize concepts and things well.

• Figure out how things work

• Excel in math. 

  • Are acutelAy interested in scientific discoveries.
Are good at solving mysteries and logic problems 

• Are good with computers.


Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills.  This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union. 

They have excellent motor skills and balance. They often have a difficult time sitting still in traditional classrooms and want to get up and “do” the activity

Are a good dancer. 

• Are expressive and skilled at acting.


  • Can build things.
  • Can accurately throw or hit a ball.
  • Can be good soldiers
• Excel in sports. 


Visual-spatial intelligence Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions.  Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination. This is the ability to perceive the world and re-create it without physical stimuli. This type of intelligence allows you to literally think in pictures and draw the images on paper. 


• Are a good judge of art or photography. 

Doodle or draw.

• Notice details.


  • Study more effectively with charts and pictures.
• Are good at assembling puzzles 

• Grasp geometry over algebra.


Interpersonal (or emotional) intelligence People with this intelligence tend to be extroverts and work in fields where they interact with others on a daily basis… Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others.  It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives 


Feel people’s moods. 

• Are sociable

Are sensitive to injustices or dishonesty.

• Are a good listener and encourager

• Engage productively in deep conversations

• Have difficulty treating others unkindly
Intrapersonal intelligence Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, They are the “deep thinkers” and  use such knowledge in planning one’s life.  Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition.  They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated. People with this skill are usually introverts, have a strong sense of independence, are self-confident and tend to be perfectionists • Judge people accurately • Are often pondering matters. 


• Daydream imaginatively. 

• Are self-critical.

Really get absorbed in a good book.

  • Can break down complicated ideas.

7. Verbal-linguistic intelligence



Those with this form of intelligence can easily learn a new language and are good at reading and writing. They learn best in a traditional setting and are good debaters.. Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings.  Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language

  • Write well. Have a great vocabulary
  • .keen to learn new words and their origins.
    • Tell good stories.



  • Explain things well.
• Are good with crossword puzzles. 

• Are eloquent.


Musical intelligence  

Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone.  This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music  .


  • Will analyze a new song critically
  • Usually quite aware of sounds others may miss
  • Often use music and rhythms to help memorize information



• Can read music and remember old songs.

They like to have music playing in the background

• Can perform well in a band. 

• Can figure out how to play a tune on an instrument.

Are able to compose music

  • Can sing, and play different musical instruments

Keeping in mind the great degree of overlap, we can compare the performance of two sexes in various physical and mental activities Advantage in the major intellectual functions ( verbal and numerical reasoning ) is well divided between the males and females. Whereas  the girls have the verbal advantage and considered as ‘word smart’, in linguistic/verbal intelligence   the boys have the advantage in numerical reasoning

On the standardized achievement test the boys surpass the girls in those subjects requiring numerical reasoning, spatial aptitudes, and the retention of certain information in such subjects as history, geography and science. The girls surpass the boys in subjects which require verbal abilities, memory, perceptual speed, and accuracy. These differences in test performance are consistent with the differences in aptitude.

Most studies show that despite sometimes significant differences in subtest scores, men and women have the same average IQ. Women perform better on tests of memory and verbal proficiency for example, while men perform better on tests of mathematical and spatial ability. Although gender-related differences in average IQ are insignificant, male scores display a higher variance: there are more men than women with both very high and very low IQ

In actual school performance, however the girls consistently surpass the  boys . That is, the girls obtain better school grades, whether the subject is language, literature, arithmetic, science history, and so on. When compared with boys receiving the same achievement test scores, girls even surpass boys in school grades. This difference in school performance persists throughout high school and college.. Annastasi suggests several reasons for the superior school performance of the girls. Their superior verbal ability gives them the advantage both in responding to instruction and in testing, both of which, of course, are predominantly verbal. Also, girls tend to be more docile than boys-less resistant to school routine and more resistant to out-of-school distractions. The predominance of women teachers in elementary school enables the girls to identify more quickly to girls than to boys.

Paradoxically, career and success belong to the men rather than to the women. Despite the superior academy ability and achievement of the women, vocational achievement is virtually a male monopoly. In the Terman studies of gifted children, the adult careers of the women were very undistinguished. A very small number engaged in university teaching, creative writing, art, and research, but two-thirds of those with IQs of 170 and above were office workers or housewives. Follow-up testing also indicated that the mean IQ of the women tended to drop at a faster rate than that of the men.

The picture is very clear. The stereotype of women as housewife, mother, companion, and social catalyst make it difficult for the female of intellectual ability and aspiration to distinguish herself in the  professional or semiprofessional world without the risk of losing some of her femininity  in the eyes of her  would be male competitors and her conservative female friends.. I t is not at all uncommon in the high schools and colleges to see the girl of superior intellectual ability and of average physical appearance displaying more interest in social than  in academic achievement. The last veil which the women must surrender for her full emancipation is the one that now hides her intellectual capacities.

All through life there were distinctions – toilets for men, toilets for women; clothes for men, clothes for women – then, at the end, the graves are identical.”
Leila Aboulela, Minaret



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