It is a finding certain to be hotly disputed – at least among half the population. According to the latest research, women are brighter than men.
For the first time in IQ testing, psychologists have found that female scores have risen above those of men.
Since IQ testing began a century ago, women have been as much as five points behind, leading psychologists to suggest embedded genetic differences.
But that gap has been narrowing in recent years and this year women have moved ahead, according to James Flynn, a world-renowned authority on IQ tests.
‘In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster,’ said Mr Flynn. ‘This is a consequence of modernity. The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ.
One possible explanation is that women’s lives have become more demanding as they multitask between raising a family and doing a job.
Another is that women have a slightly higher potential intelligence than men and are only now realising it.
Mr Flynn, who will publish his findings in a book, said more data was needed to explain the trend.
‘The full effect of modernity on women is only just emerging,’ he added.
He collated IQ examination results from countries in western Europe and from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Estonia.
These showed that in westernised countries the gap in scores between men and women had become minimal.
The data for making exact comparisons was sparser and could be carried out for only a handful of countries. It included Australia, where male and female IQs were found to be almost identical. In New Zealand, Estonia and Argentina, women scored marginally more than men.
Mr Flynn said: ‘As the world gets more complex, and living in it demands more abstract thought, so people are adapting.’
He added: ‘I suspect that the same trends are happening in Britain, too, although the data is too sparse to be sure.