In the battle of the sexes women have always believed they are cleverer than men.
And now it would appear they are justified in thinking they are superior after psychologists found female IQ scores have risen above men’s for the first time in 100 years.
Women have been as much as five points behind men since testing began a century ago, but that gap has narrowed in recent times.
This year women finally came out on top – and it may be because they are better at multitasking. The breakthrough has been uncovered by James Flynn, the world-renowned authority on IQ tests.
He told the Sunday Times: ‘In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen but women’s have risen faster.This is a consequence of modernity.
‘The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ. The full effect of modernity on women is only just emerging.’
One theory is women’s ability to multitask as they juggle raising a family and going to work, while another explanation is that they are finally realising they have a slightly higher potential intelligence than men.
Flynn will publish his findings in a new book, but said more data was needed to explain the trend because tests have consistently shown differences between gender and race.
In the 1980s the ‘Flynn Effect’ highlighted IQs in western countries increased by roughly three points a decade with modern day westerners scoring about 30 points more than people living 100 years ago.
It also showed IQ was not genetic and could be improved.
Flynn, emeritus professor of political studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, collated new IQ tests from countries in western Europe and from America, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Estonia.
These showed that in westernised countries the gap between men and women had become insignificant.
In Australia, male and female IQs were found to be almost identical while in New Zealand, Estonia and Argentina, women scored marginally more than men.
‘As the world gets more complex, and living in it demands more abstract thought, so people are adapting,’ Flynn told the paper. ‘This improvement is more marked for women than for men because they were more disadvantaged in the past.’
Two years ago, a five-month online contest between the sexes concluded women were cleverer than men.
The competition in nine languages was based on the popular board game Trivial Pursuit. More than 15 million questions were asked and although the balance of power shifted consistently women narrowly clinched victory.
They answered 4,088,139 questions correctly, compared to the 4,077,596 right answers given by men.
It would take an individual more than 3,500 non-stop days or nine years, 215 days, eight hours and 24 minutes to answer the same number of questions when playing the board game which was first launched in 1982.