Sex Differences in Intellectual Performance: Analysis of a Large Cohort of Competitive Chess Players
23 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2005
Date Written: December 19, 2005
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.
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