Sex Differences in Intellectual Performance: Analysis of a Large Cohort of Competitive Chess Players

23 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2005

See all articles by Christopher F. Chabris

Christopher F. Chabris

Harvard University - Department of Psychology

Mark E. Glickman

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Date Written: December 19, 2005

Abstract

Only 1% of the world's chess grandmasters are women. This underrepresentation is unlikely to be caused by discrimination, since chess ratings objectively reflect competitive results. Using data on the ratings of 250,000 tournament players over 13 years, we investigate several potential explanations for the male domination of elite chess. We find that: (1) the ratings of men are higher on average than those of women, but no more variable; (2) matched boys and girls improve and drop out at equal rates, but boys begin chess competition in greater numbers and at higher performance levels than girls; (3) in locales where at least 50% of the new young players are girls, their initial ratings are not lower than those of boys. We conclude that the greater number of men at the highest levels in chess can be explained by the greater number of boys who enter chess at the lowest levels.

Suggested Citation

Chabris, Christopher F. and Glickman, Mark E., Sex Differences in Intellectual Performance: Analysis of a Large Cohort of Competitive Chess Players (December 19, 2005). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=871186 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.871186

Christopher F. Chabris

Harvard University - Department of Psychology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc

Mark E. Glickman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Science Center 7th floor
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-2901
United States

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