Women and brilliance


“Linking success in some fields to intellectual talent undermines women’s interest in them … Overall, these experiments found that women showed less interest in career areas that were linked to “brilliance” relative to other traits, such as dedication. Men, however, did not generally show differential interest in these areas. The results also pointed to the “brilliance = men” stereotype as a reason for these gender differences.”



Women are not generally brilliant so the term does not generally get applied to them. In the same way, men rarely get called winsome.

Secondly, confidence is necessary for success because a certain arrogance gives a person a reason to believe he or she will succeed. Women in science for example undermine themselves by choosing small subjects and topics. The big fields like high energy physics and cosmology attract men because we have big ambitions. Small fields like botanical taxonomy and illustration attract women. Nobody wins a Nobel Prize for botanical taxonomy.

As usual this article gets cause and effect wrong. Fields that require brilliance and daring attract men because men tend to be brilliant and daring. What really bugged feminists about the Shirtgate scientist was not his naughty t shirt (anyone could see he was just a nice, jolly kind of fellow). What really bothered them was his masculine brilliance and daring in landing a probe on a comet.


12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by fuzziewuzziebear on January 10, 2018 at 5:23 am

    I got close to a very bright woman a long time ago. Her conscious self went one way while her physical self went another. She was never able to reconcile the two.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 10, 2018 at 11:20 am

      A really good mind can be a liability for a woman. One problem is that her desire to succeed professionally is in obvious conflict with any desire she may have to marry and have children.


  2. Why this pic with this post?


  3. An interesting thing I find about many women -even those seemingly settled contentedly into family life- is a preoccupation with having their intellect acknowledged. I suspect as a young woman this mattered to me more, but I can’t ever remember caring that much about almost from the minute I met my husband.

    Even having been *clocked* at 130 IQ from a young age, I just don’t care as much if anyone thinks I’m smart. I care greatly about not appearing foolish or stupid, but not so much that people see me as exceptionally smart. And I’m cool with the fact that men on the main are more brilliant than women.

    I find myself in the minority in that regard.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 10, 2018 at 8:43 pm

      The problem is that it is now generally insisted that women should emulate men in every respect. In fact psychologists know that men have a greater variability in IQ, which would explain a lot of the sex differences in achievement.

      However this is not acknowledged by ideologues and their insistence that only discrimination explains sex differences in achievement feeds resentment among women.


    • Some of us were read too much SciFi in our youth, and expected to turn out like Deety… go full Heinlein Heroine and be gorgeous and brilliant and adventurous and… It’s rather a come-down when it doesn’t work out like that.


      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 12, 2018 at 10:59 pm

        I read a fair bit of science fiction when I was young and I expect that included some Heinlein. But I seem to remember not noticing authors much then. Just stories.

        In any case I don’t remember Deety and I shall have to look her up.

        Something similar happens to boys. Disappointment at one’s actual ability. A lot of boys dream of being an Einstein or a Feynman or an Asimov. And of course that mostly doesn’t happen.

      • Dejah Thoris. Book = Number of the Beast.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 12, 2018 at 11:12 pm

        Thanks. I just found her in a terrible review of the book. It actually sounds like a book I would enjoy.

        My problem is that in bookshops or libraries I make a beeline for the non-fiction and rarely peruse the fiction including the science fiction.

      • The later Heinleins aren’t as well-written as the former. NotB is … confusing… but you might well enjoy it.
        Let me know!

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