I recent unrelated forum post got me thinking: I don't know a single female that plays chess (my wife loathes the thought of learning). And speaking from my limited experience, it seems that there is a very low ratio of women to men in general on this site. Any thoughts on why the numbers are so disproportionate? I would especially like to hear from women on the topic.
And please, I'm not looking for man or woman bashing. Serious thoughts only. Lets try to be fair and objective.
Necessary post. The precious solids were falling to the bottom.
I'm very happy to see this question. As a woman, I have thought about this quite a bit. One reason I don't normally identify myself as a woman is that I'm concerned about harassment. But the real question is why so few women in the U.S. play chess. As a recent chess addict myself, I have an opionion, which I'm glad to share. 1) Notice that the U.S. has fewer female players than other cultures. I suspect my personal history is exemplary of other women: My father taught my brother to play chess but said I was not "mathematically inclined" and didn't teach me. 2) All the males I've known in my life are more experienced in chess. No female ever asked me to play chess. So when I did try to learn from a male, I always lost. Frankly, it was only because the average male chess player doesn't really have a clue about how to play chess and can't teach it--even if he wants to. 3) Women do not have the killer instinct. Honestly, we don't. It's foreign to me to try to wreak bloody havoc on an opponent.
So, how did I suddenly become a chess addict? I was really sick one day, and I downloaded a nice iPhone app called tChess: Learn to play chess. It told me some basics no one else had ever told me. It gave me a chance to play a simple game against a computer. Suddenly a few things made sense. I was fascinated.
Now I can't get enough of chess. I often find myself thinking, "Let the games begin!" and imagining gladiators in an arena. I think about a blood bath of pawns. Believe me, please, women don't think this way.
So, short answer to why women don't play chess often is: 1) no training, 2) no blood lust, and 3) we don't realize how much fun it is.
Or a good title for a book.
Interesting thoughts ccm. I can honestly say that as I am teaching my young son the basics (and by teaching I mean showing him how the pieces move) it never occurred to me for a moment that my daughter might actually enjoy playing too. I do such different things with her it just never crossed my mind. That is something I'll have to remedy.
I think "no blood lust" is my favorite.
I have two daughters who grew up watching their dad struggle through chess tournaments. The oldest did not show any interest at all in chess, but willingly sold doughnuts and coffee at the chess tournaments that I ran back in the 80's. The youngest decided she would like to play. So she did for a few years until high school academics got in the way. Later she sold books for a chess company at the American Open and the North American Open. That was in the 90's. I honestly don't know if she enjoyed playing or not. But from a parental perspective I am glad that she had the experience. Nevertheless, I believe the main reason for less females in US chess than in other countries is basically cultural. Its simply not emphasized as a cultural "must do". I think, however, with scholastic chess going as it has the past 10 years or so there will be a change in a few generations.
I think that most parents "assume" that a girl won't like chess, and would rather "play with dolls" or do something that is more ladylike..... What hogwash. I'm a pilot and the same gender bias has been in aviation for years and years. There are female pilots today who can fly circles around their male counterparts. Hopefully, one day, females will be afforded all the same opportunities and encouragement from their parents as the males in our society.
Women tend to view chess as a men's game in the American society. Men tend to be better mathematically inclined, where women are better multi-taskers. That is why you see a man look focused on a chess board while other people are talking in the room, while a women can play and gab with their friends... Therefore, men LIKE to think, women don't. This isn't bashing women its just what I see.
Women don't have the killer instinct, and men do, sounds rather sexist. Plenty of women enjoy being the victor in sports, and games. A lot of women have been trained since birth to believe that being a clingy little bubble head is "feminine." I don't know any chess players, male or female, but I've seen examples of parents who don't teach their daughters, games that they don't consider "feminine" whether she's interested or not.
Anything that gets said in this thread will be gender stereotypes, most probably.
To describe chess as "blood lust" is already ridiculous enough, I don't know anyone who got killed at chess yet, but let's not stop there.
Because they're in the kitchen making me a sammich.
Great posts until this one :) I currently live in a part of the world where it seems the number of female chess players is near zero. It is a great relief to have found this site and with it the discovery that the world is full of female chess players, which is a beautiful thing. But I digress.
I am a counsellor at 3 or 4 elementary schools. I run chess clubs in each of them every year. All students, male and female are invited to join starting at grade 3. At many of the other schools in our school district, the chess coaches are female. At the grade 3 level there are slightly fewer girls sign up than do boys. By grade 6 there are 5 times more boys playing than girls playing. This disparity continues to increase past grade 6 and is most notable at the district chess tournament finals at the end of the school year. I don't think it has much to do with aptitude in math, as many of the female students are more successful in math than their male counterparts. I maybe way off base here but here's my theory. I notice that by and large my female students as they approach puberty are more engaged in social interactions that involve a high level of communication at a variety of levels. Not only are these interactions more frequent but they are keenly analyzed and very strategic. I guess what I'm saying is that the female students I work with, do like playing chess but do so in real time in real life on the broader canvas of real relationships. It has nothing to do with a lack of competitiveness. There is nothing more competitive than a clique of grade 6 girls embroiled in a pecking order dispute! In addition to visual /spacial problem solving skills these young women are also playing with language, emotion, and relationships to name only a few. Maybe that's why they lose interest ... compared to what they are doing ...chess is two dimensional. (translation: borrringg!)
I'm a girl and I play everyday
Actually I've heard the trend for female chess players is to have an aggressive attacking style. In the US at least (I don't know if this was considered to be true everywhere) it was said in the past that females and their "maternal instinct" prevented them from wanting to compete and win... which is really odd I'm not sure how that follows... but today if you ask top players... I remember Carlsen (and some before him too) comment on how female players actually tend to be aggressive.
Also of course there's no significant difference between the brains of men and women (I think women have a lot more white matter or something and men have a little more grey), so I think looking at the culture is the right idea. I've seen women at tournaments (played one and lost to a very good attack) and one that was playing at our club until she finished her degree and moved out to Chicago or something, she was 1900+ (USCF) strength and obviously was able to beat me (not every game!)... I honestly never cared that I had lost to a woman vs losing to a man... actually I ended up facing her in a tournament a few years ago and lost, forgot about that. So I'm surprised when others say they haven't met any female chess players.
You're right that WAS kind of silly.
As for women lacking the "killer instinct," you may be interested in seeing what Susan Polgar says on her sight.
Did you ever think to ask her if she enjoyed playing or not?
i've tried fair, but i've never tried objective.
There are of course many talented female chess players. I honestly do not believe that it is simply a matter of insufficient nurturing which accounts for why there are not as many women involved in chess as men. I do not have any theories about why that is, but I think it has more to do with nature than nurture. I have observed many many times that when I mention my chess playing to a female that she will frequently respond by mentioning Backgammon. Has anyone else experienced that?
yx can whilst xx cant and vice versa
vive la difference
Yes, I should have qualified my remarks. They do refer to me. I have always been competitive, too, but not in sports or games. The blood lust to which I referred was metaphorical. I think chess is the only zero-sum game I've ever enjoyed. Maybe it's my generation, or maybe it's American culture, but the idea of "beating" someone simply for the sensation of winning never appealed to me until I found chess. Chess is also the only game I've found that doesn't involve any random chance--no dice, no card deck, no roulette wheel. It also doesn't require a certain physique, another factor completely outside of my control. So, the sensation of wreaking havoc in chess has come as a revelation to me.