Scrabble study reveals women are lazy

John Tierney elaborates on his genius “women aren’t competitive” theory with an even more illuminating argument: women just don’t want it bad enough. But don’t worry; Tierney came to this conclusion using the most advanced method possible for studying gender differences: Scrabble.
…But if you think that leveling the playing field would eliminate gender disparities, consider an unintentional experiment conducted in the Scrabble world, which is hardly a hostile environment for women.
For a quarter-century, women have outnumbered men at Scrabble clubs and tournaments in America, but a woman has won the national championship only once, and all the world champions have been men. Among the top-ranked 50 players, typically about 45 are men.
The top players, both male and female, point to a simple explanation for the disparity: more men are willing to do whatever it takes to reach the top. You need more than intelligence and a good vocabulary to become champion. You have to spend hours a day learning words like “khat,” doing computerized drills and memorizing long lists of letter combinations, called alphagrams, that can form high-scoring seven-letter words.
A champion wouldn’t waste any valuable time in a game. Thanks to the thousands of alphagrams he‘s memorized, he would realize immediately that there are four anagrams in the first rack (antlers, rentals, saltern, sternal) and none in the second.

See ladies, if we weren’t so lazy about studying vocabulary we would be equals in life and in board games!
And why do women lack the necessary drive to succeed? We don’t care about getting laid as much as men do.

“Evolution has selected for men with a taste for risking everything to get to the top of the hierarchy,” [anthropologist Helen Fisher] said, “because those males get more reproductive opportunities, not only among primates but also among human beings. Women don’t get as big a reproductive payoff by reaching the top. They’re just as competitive with themselves – they want to do a good job just as much as men do – but men want to be more competitive with others.”
Evolutionary psychologists see two kinds of payoffs that traditionally went (and often still go) to victorious men. Women have long been drawn to men at the top of a hierarchy (a clan leader, Donald Trump) who have the resources to support children.
…So if you’re a lonely bachelor at the bottom, it makes evolutionary sense to have more zeal than the typical woman to fight your way up. It has been noted at Scrabble tournaments that some of the best players are single guys with wide-open social calendars. And there are Scrabble groupies – I’m not kidding – apparently still under the unconscious influence of that classic short-term reproductive strategy. They prefer guys who win.

And men prefer losers, I suppose?
You know, I can buy that the impetus behind many human actions is to have sex. But Tierney’s (and these theories’) assumptions that women won’t go that extra mile because it’s not worth it to them reproductively is just absurd. It relates back to the whole women-are-meant-to-be-monogamous-and-hate-sex argument that Amanda touched on recently at Pandagon.
For a fantastic book on women that (among other things) takes on evolutionary psychology’s position on what “female nature” is, check out Natalie Angier’s “Woman: An Intimate Geography.” It’s the best. Really.
UPDATE: Echidne on the same.

and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

2 Comments

  1. midge_ratchet
    Posted May 31, 2005 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    i think something that gets ignored a lot in these kinds of studies is the fact that men are a lot more likely to have the free time to do stuff like sit in front of a computer doing mind-numbing drills for hours. women’s lives are more likely to be filled with caring for children, partners or other family members, and working longer hours for less pay than men. these things are more and more a part of men’s lives these days, but women still carry the larger burden. and duh, there’s tons of social conditioning against women being competitive. almost no one responds positively to a women regarded as competitive.

  2. Posted June 1, 2005 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Dude clearly hasn’t played me at scrabble. His ass is mine.

163 queries. 0.475 seconds