STEM Bros Think They Are Smarter Than Women, Even Though Grades Prove Otherwise


A new study affirms what many of us already know to be true: Men have an inflated sense of intelligence over women that hasn’t been earned. Researchers at Arizona State University found that gender has a massive impact on how one perceives their intelligence and their intelligence compared to others. The study focused on students studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and found that women are more likely to underestimate their intelligence than men.

From Arizona State University:

…When comparing a female and a male student, both with a GPA of 3.3, the male student is likely to say he is smarter than 66 percent of the class, and the female student is likely to say she is smarter than only 54 percent of the class.
In addition, when asked whether they are smarter than the person they worked most with in class, the pattern continued. Male students are 3.2 times more likely than females to say they are smarter than the person they are working with, regardless of whether their class partners are men or women.

Lead researchers Katelyn Cooper and Sara Brownell found these findings particularly telling because they occurred in a biology class. Brownell told NBC News that biology is considered a more women friendly area of STEM, “unlike the more male-dominated fields like engineering and physics.”

Apparently the biology field is also full of assholes too.

These findings are consistent with horror stories from women who have been belittled and discriminated against in ultra male-dominated STEM programs and fields. Consider this anecdote from Grace Pearson, a science writer and education coordinator at Perdue who holds a Ph.D in entomology from North Carolina State University.

“As a graduate student, a fellow male student said, to my face, that he had no idea how I was admitted to the program because I clearly wasn’t smart enough to be there,” Pearson recalls.
“He said having me as a fellow graduate student ‘lessened the value of his degree.’ Direct quote. He seemed to think that I should leave for the good of the other students. It was pretty devastating.”

This is all far less surprising (but equally stomach churning) when one considers the fact that men—whether it’s in a STEM class doing research or at a bar talking about music—consider themselves experts with far more ease than women do.

From NBC News:

Ilana Seidel Horn, a professor of mathematics education at Vanderbilt University, says it’s been shown that girls and women doubt their own mastery of a subject more than boys and men do.
“Really bright girls often don’t feel like they know something unless they very much understand it, whereas boys are more comfortable saying they understand something without having an actual deeper understanding,” Horn said.

Yeah, uh, this explains everything.

Read the full report with even more WTF anecdotes at NBC News.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin