On the Relative Intelligence of Women A Review of Two Essays

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On the Relative Intelligence of Women A Review of Two Essays During times in which there is increased social concern over the relative equality of men and women in various areas of study, there is a common desire to determine whether there is an appreciable difference in intelligence in relation to gender. Two essays which document various aspects of the relative intelligence of men and women are “Women and the Mismeasure of Thought” by Judith Genova, and “The Variability Hypothesis” by Stephanie Shields. Genova seeks to criticize measuring the difference in intelligence between men and women. Genova was unsuccessful with this article in that the questions she raised were not satisfactorily answered, and there was an overall lack of citation. “The Variability Hypothesis” is an essay detailing the history and arguments against the purported greater variance in male intelligence. Though the argument of Shields’ paper is to some extent banal, her criticism of the variability hypothesis is extensive and satisfactory. The introduction of Genova’s essay is a criticism of historically accepted measurements of intelligence. In the past using brain size as a measure of intelligence was not altogether unacceptable. When this practice was discredited by the obvious lack of intellectual superiority of whales and elephants, a new physical measure of intelligence was sought. Other body dimensions were given brief consideration as measures of intelligence until the example of Negroes, Australians, and Eskimos denied that theory. Genova argues that prejudice over which groups are socially allowed to be intelligent leads to bad science in determining measures of intelligence. I agree that the highly stereotypical practice of craniom... ... middle of paper ... ...cited by Shields, and though the argument she proposed is an arbitrary one, it is a well defined criticism of the variability hypothesis. Judith Genova’s article “Women and the Mismeasure of Thought” is one that I don’t feel has proved any substantial points. A torrent of big ideas combined with a lack of substantial amounts of agreeing references makes it hard to accept Genova’s ideas. Shields’ essay “The Variability Hypothesis,” however, is successful in that it takes on a more specific subject and provides more extensive and applicable sources to her thesis. Bibliography: Frenkel 1990 Frenkel, Karen A. ``Women and Computing''. Communications of the ACM, November 1990, 34--46. One of two articles comprising CACM's cover story on women and computing. Has a good bibliography. http://www.ai.mit.edu/people/ellens/Gender/pap/pap.html
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