Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Shocker--Men know (and care) more about what's going on in the world than women do

++Addition2++Writing in November 11, I've added the results from Pew's October 2011 News IQ quiz. More of the same.

++Addition++Writing in April 2011, I've added the results from Pew's March 2011 News IQ quiz. Same old, same old.


Steve links to a NYT article that is almost beyond parody where it is suggested that misogyny is behind the gender imbalance in Wikipedia contributions (in terms of content, though I suspect also in terms of financial donations). A commenter does a great job of capturing my sentiments:
Years ago I largely abandoned TV for the Web. The only people who end up discussing politics here are the ones who're actually interested in it, so naturally most discussions are dominated by men. On the rare occasions when I watch TV nowadays, I am shocked by the proliferation of women pretending to pontificate on male subjects there. Not just politics - sports, and even technology. Gadgets, for God's sakes! Years ago I was so used to this phoniness that it seemed natural, but it doesn't anymore. You'd see a 5-member panel discussing the Tea Party on CNN and 3 of the pundits would be women. It cracks me up.
Of course the major media will not touch biological explanations, namely that men are relatively expendable and can afford to pontificate on the most desirable outcome for Egypt, while women have a greater stake in tending to their offspring and thus are drawn to things close to home and away from things a world away (virtually, heh). If the NYT needs evidence for as much, its writers need only to visit the Pew Research Center. Pew frequently conducts "News IQ" surveys, randomly quizzing 1,000 people on current events. The most recent results are from November 2010. As is always the case, men outperformed women by more than a full point on the 12-item test. The average number of questions answered correctly, by sex, since Pew began conducting the surveys nearly four years ago:

Oct '118.5
March '116.35.5
Nov '105.64.5
July '106.45.2
Jan '106.04.6
Oct '095.94.7
April '098.36.7
Dec '086.55.7
Feb '086.75.3
Sept '077.66.3
April '07*+19(17)

* Pew did not break out the average number of questions answered correctly by sex in the first of its political IQ quizzes conducted in April 2007, but did classify demographic groups into three knowledge categories--high, medium, and low. The figures listed in the table are arrived at by taking the percentage of each sex listed as having high knowledge and subtracting it by the percentage with low knowledge.

Then again, the left-leaning (and consequently invaluable, as Pew is also refreshingly honest--though the results are not broken out by race, as even Pew is not that honest) Research Center's telephone interviewers could be sexists intentionally trying to confuse female respondents while guiding male respondents to the correct answers. Or, even more problematically, the entire structure of the Western media establishment could have an incorrigible bias that delivers information in a way that interests men but bores women. Undoubtedly there are misogynists infesting not just Wikipedia, but every organ of the major media in the US! Parenthetically, it is worthwhile for readers to have perspective regarding their own levels of knowledge compared to that of the general population.

Take a minute to complete the quiz. I got all 12 questions correct (although the TARP one was admittedly a reasoned guess), and I suspect most regular readers will be in the same neighborhood. But the median score among those sampled is 5 of 12 questions answered correctly. And it's multiple choice, so a question or two of those five are merely the result of good luck. Most people just don't pay attention to what is going on in anything but the world immediately around them plus popular culture.


Anonymous said...

First line: parity → parody

Audacious Epigone said...

Oops, thanks!

Black Sea said...

I still remember one of the Fox bimbos trying to make sense of the "troubles" in the Middle East. "Well," she said, "The Arabs speak Arabic and the Israelis speak Israeli . . . I mean, Jewish!"

At that point, having exhausted her knowledge of the region, she changed the subject.

Anonymous said...

I see this almost everyday. For the past 9 years I've commuted by train from Baltimore to DC and to amuse myself I often observe what other people are reading. I have never once noticed a woman reading anything other than movie and celebrity magazines, novels, and the Bible. Men tend to read New Yorker, The Economist, the Wall Street journal, and other heavier stuff. Admittedly, I can't see what's on people's kindle or smartphone, but I have a feeling the results would be similar.

Saint Louis said...

My own observations have been similar to the previous anonymous commenter.

It doesn't bother me that women are more interested in trivial and silly topics like celebrity gossip. What does bother me is that those same women are accorded the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

If a woman is going to stay home to raise kids, cook, and clean, then it doesn't matter ao much that she has no interest in the world at large. But if she's going to vote or run for office or work for the government, she should be better acquainted with what's happening in the world.

Shawn said...

I got a 10. Got the inflation and TARP questions wrong. :-(

Anonymous said...

Can you link to the histogram they give? Where would the average woman fall in the distribution of men in this quiz?

What I've noticed is that men and women broadly find different things interesting. Most women don't obsess about sports or politics, and most men don't obsess about celebrity gossip (except about athletes and politicians).

Women seem more inclined to be interested in more local politics. My wife can get interested in the internal politics of our kids' school or our parish or our neighborhood in ways I find deadly boring.

Audacious Epigone said...


The histogram presented at the end of the most recent test is for all respondents--it's not broken down by demographic categories.

Silver said...

Three mildly interesting observations: (a) there wasn't one question women answered correctly at a higher rate than men; (b) how few people knew who the British PM is; (c) the age gap on the Google/Android question.

(I got 11, btw. #$@%! TARP. But then again I'm not an American, that's my excuse.)

Overall, I found the most glaring statistic the 6.8 college grad average. Fewer than one in three knew what the inflation rate is or who the British PM is. That may not be as bad I think it is, but it sure does seem bad.

Audacious Epigone said...


Nor a single quiz over the last few years where women scored higher. It's pretty clear that men pay more attention to national and international news stories than women do.

Presuming you're a Brit, no need to feel any shame for the toughest question posed--after all, you schooled 98% of my fellow countrymen :)

Mats said...

I had never noticed it before, but it's true. Men do care more for things abroad than women.