Some truths are hard to accept: Girls do not do as well as boys in identification for giftedness tests

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Prof.Dr. Hanna David 1408   -   09-10-2021

 Sometimes we have to “digest” unpopular facts, facts that are accepted by many people as prejudices or even lies because they seem to belong to a world we do not wish to adopt as “real”. One of these facts is the “IQ mystery”, namely, how come that in spite of the fact that in the second decade of the 21st century, when women have reached the highest possible positions in practically ALL fields, life areas, professions and careers, there are more girls than boys in most programs for the gifted when the “entrance ticket” is based on neutral IQ examinations.


 This fact is obviously disturbing. We would have wanted to think that that the 20ieth century statement, that “in the IQ=130 range one third of the children are girls, when the cutoff point is 140 – only one quarter of children are girls, and when it is 150 – the rate of girls is just about 20%” is false. However, this data is consistent with the American SAT results of the last 50 years, as well as the 30 last years of the “Psycometric” Israeli results, taken before being accepted to any university. While the verbal results of both genders are very similar, the average of the math part of boys is higher by 35-50 points than that of girls. As only high school graduates take these examinations, and taking into consideration that there is a high correlation between the IQ and the SAT results, we can conclude that in the upper part of the GAUSS IQ-curve there are more males than females, and the higher the IQ is the percentage of males gets higher.


 Facing such an unpleasant fact is indeed hard, but it would be very unwise to deny it. Many educators who first hear about this disparity just say: “I do not believe it”, as if this is a question of belief. Others dismiss it by saying things such as: “IQ does not matter” or “there are other, more important things if life”. In many cases there is no “IQ conversation”, namely, giftedness might be a “legitimate” issue, but this should be discussed without the “dirty 2-letter term” [=IQ]. The theory of multiple intelligences, suggested by Howard Gardner in 1983 tried to give another solution for the “IQ problem”. It suggested, that there are 7 different “intelligences”, only two of which are tested in the traditional IQ tests, but all other 5 are highly relevant for success as well. After more than three decades it is already clear, that indeed, there are many kinds of talent, much more than 7, but the two most relevant for predicting success in cognitive areas are those measured in IQ tests: verbal and mathematical-logical.

 So in spite of all these – and many other – suggested “solutions”, IQ is still alive and kicking. The late Avner Ziv had once suggested that ALL body weigh-scales should be eliminated, and thus nobody will be overweight. When we do not use IQ for measuring intelligence, we can all be identified as smart, talented, gifted. It seems a good way for reaching equity in the education system but actually it works only for the more financially advantaged students. While children from well-to-do families will always have access to better schools, better teachers, and better-developed learning programs, extra-curricular activities and if needed – private tutors, gifted students from poorer families, students in the periphery and students with learning disabilities will not. These are the students that a simple IQ tests can identify as gifted and as a result will be eligible to proper, accessible good education they deserve.

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