Why are there so few women GMs?

Dec 28, 2008, 7:45 AM |

The sound you can hear is a can of worms being opened...Wink

Fear not; I'm not going to debate the answer to the question in the title of this blog post, but I was fascinated to read a recent article of this title which questioned the idea that there are any innate differences in ability between the sexes when it comes to playing chess.

The article discusses the research of Merim Bilalic of Oxford University.  In a nutshell...

Himself a keen chess player, Bilalic smelled a rat in Irwing's contention that men dominate the higher echelons of chess because of their innate ability. In an elegant new study, he has shown that the performance gap between male and female chess players is caused by nothing more than simple statistics.

Far more men play chess than women and based on that simple fact, you could actually predict the differences we see in chess ability at the highest level. It's a simple statistical fact that the best performers from a large group are probably going to be better than the best performers from a small one. Even if two groups have the same average skill and, importantly, the same range in skill, the most capable individuals will probably come from the larger group.

The full article is here.  H/T The Closet Grandmaster.