Why are (the best) women so good at chess?
Participation rates and gender differences in intellectual domains

26 Jan 2009
The Virtual Medical Centre, Australia

The lack of women at the top level of intellectually demanding activities like science and chess is often attributed to their inferior cognitive abilities.

We show in chess that although the best men are better than the best women, the difference is little more than would be expected given the much greater number of men who play.

The simple but often overlooked statistical fact is that the best performers in a large group are likely to be better than the best performers in a smaller one. This may explain why women are underrepresented at the top of other activities where far fewer of them compete.

(Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: Royal Society B: Biological Sciences: January 2009)

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