Seriously Bad News. If you’re a man…


Let’s start off with the most contentious question I’m ever going to ask in this blog: which of the sexes is more intelligent?

Here’s my answer – and no, Dav is not hovering over me with a frying pan. Women are more intelligent than men. I admit that I have no scientific backing for this opinion, but I do have plenty of anecdotal evidence – nearly all of it involving egg sandwiches or coronation chicken.

As you know, I was head of a large sales force for Nestle – and occasionally I’d be out on a call with one of the team or one of the area managers. Inevitably this involved lunch – which inevitably meant parking the car and eating a sandwich.

Me? I was a beef-no-salad-no-mayo man. That’s why I was head of the sales force. But I would watch knowingly as my colleague cheerfully ordered an Egg Mayo or a Coronation Chicken. And then he’d sit in the car, take an enormous bite of sandwich and sure as night follows day, a piece of egg or a lump of chicken would escape. And score a direct hit on his silk tie. I once saw a piece of coronation chicken hit someone’s tie, fall onto his suit and then bounce into his open bottle of Coke.

On behalf of women the world over, I rest my case. Any sex whose members can spend thirty quid on a silk tie one day and order an Egg Mayonnaise sandwich the next simply has to be inferior.

And now – to the consternation of men everywhere – it appears that there could be scientific proof of this theory. Two American professors – Anita Wooley and Thomas Malone – have conducted some experiments.

Subjects aged 18 to 60 were given standard intelligence tests and assigned randomly to teams. The teams were then given tasks – brainstorming, visual tests, complex puzzles and decision making – and awarded an intelligence score based on their performance. The teams containing people with higher individual scores didn’t do significantly better than average. The teams containing a higher proportion of women did. Bluntly, the higher the proportion of women in a group, the higher the collective IQ of that group.

To make matters worse (for men at least), here’s the boss of an engineering company commenting on the findings:

As the principle of an engineering company, I have often felt that new project (and product) review meetings benefited from bringing in some of the non-engineering women on our staff. The obvious benefits involve their sense of involvement in the company, but also their willingness to question the engineer’s premises which did not make intuitive sense. After I read your article, it reinforces my gut feeling that we frequently saw better results with mixed gender meetings. As you suggest, it seems that the performance of the group is intellectually superior to the all male groups I have managed most of my career.

I found these results fascinating. Do I notice a difference – both in approach and suggested solutions – from Boards which have a higher proportion of women? Yes, I do. I think women are more intuitive, and less ready to accept the conventional wisdom. To quote Robert Kennedy, they’re more prepared “to dream of things that never were and ask ‘why not?’”

Is this just me? Apparently not. I was chatting about the make up of Boards to some TAB colleagues the other day. They said the same about their Boards.

But supposing you’re not a member of an Alternative Board? Supposing you’re a small business and there’s only two of three of you – but you’ve some big decisions to make. I’ve a suggestion for you: take some friends out to dinner.

Find half a dozen people whose opinions you respect – even better if they run a business – and buy them dinner in exchange for their expertise. But remember to mix the group up – and obviously, a significant proportion of women!

For now, I’m going to hide in my bunker and wait for comments – and yet again, file this one under “blogs-to-keep-from-the-wife…”

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4 comments

  1. Andy Douse · June 9, 2011

    Great blog Ed. I regularly run my business ideas past my wife to see what she thinks. And I’ve got egg mayo stains on my tie!!

  2. Rich Cadden · June 10, 2011

    I could write a thesis on this. I dont think its a matter of male or female, I think this comes down to “dominant hemisphere thinking”. Left brain is all about lists and logic, whereas right-brain thinking is the creative side (art/dance/music etc). Most of educational system is based on left-brain thinking and students get judged on right/wrong, rather than the shades of grey on the creative-side.
    The make-up of a team should have left and right brain thinkers in regardless of sex.
    It is a very sweeping statement to say that women are more inclined to right-brain thinking, even if they do seem more atuned to this. Maybe it says more about our social circles if guys dont feel comfortable to express their more creative side?
    As a personal trainer, the old adage goes “Muscle: Use it or lose it”…. The same goes for brain power!

  3. edreidyork · June 10, 2011

    Hi Rich – as ever, some very good points, but I do think the male/female dynamic is more than left/right brain thinking, so perhaps you’re onto something with the “social” comment. Thanks for your input!

  4. Dav · June 11, 2011

    Great blog this week.
    The wife x

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