Chess is gendered?

It’s not up to other people to prove a negative.

If you can find a counter-example then you have a valid argument. If you can’t find a counter-example, and nobody else can, then the proposition that no such country exists is a reasonable one.

‘How do you know that?’ is a pitiful catch-all phrase that people usually use when they have no answer to an argument, but don’t want to admit that they’re wrong.

Yours is a common mistake. It is indeed possible to make a positive claim about a negative. i.e. “god does not exist” and that is exactly what Broomstick did.
So in fact I’m not asking them to prove a negative, they made a positive claim.

Which requires something to back it up.

I did not make a positive claim. I said.

Note, there is no claim on my part that such a country definitely does exist.

So feel free to read that again and tell me who exactly is making a positive claim.

If you’re not claiming that such a country exists, then Broomstick is right in saying that it’s not possible to test your hypothesis.

No that sentence doesn’t hold. Whether such a country exists or not is independent of any claim I’m making.

I’m saying that the existence of such a country would enable the hypothesis to be tested. The implicit assumption in that would be that if such a country doesn’t exists then it could not be tested. That is obvious and doesn’t need saying.

What Broomstick claimed was that such a country doesn’t exist. I don’t know on what basis such a specific claim is made.

In other words it remains open as to whether that hypothesis can be tested until someone is able to show that such a country either does or does not exist.

I did a quick google and it looks like there are indeed countries (with substantial populations) that have rates of female participation many times higher than those seen in such as the UK, USA and other similar nations.

Take China or Vietnam (female participation rate 28-38%) and Denmark or Finland (2-4%). They could potentially be compared across varying chess criteria to see if, or how much, the amount of female participation changes the level of attainment.

The really interesting thing that seems to emerge is that societal gender equality is negatively correlated with female participation in chess. i.e. the more equal the society the less that women get involved in chess.
I don’t know for sure what is going on there or what it means but it is in line with other findings that the greater the equality of opportunity in a society generally the greater the gender disparities become in some areas of life.
That may be the case for chess as well. Given a free, wide range of life-choices it may be that women are inherently disposed to make different choices to men.

Let me give an example from earlier in this thread (paraphrased, but you can scroll back to read the exchange):

I said that there had never been any women in the top 10 of chess.

Someone came back with an example of a woman who was rated #8.

I said, oh, I did not know that, thanks for the information, I stand corrected.

OK, got that?

I said there is no country that is non-gendered in chess. I am certainly not aware of any. Until we have an actual example of that we can not prove or disprove your hypothesis.

If you come back with an example of a nation where chess is non-gendered I say thank you, I stand corrected, and the dialog progresses.

If you can’t give an example that’s fine - maybe such a place does not exist or maybe neither one of us is aware of it. But until such an example actually exists please stop hammering on a hypothesis that can not be tested.

I make that claim on the basis that I have never heard of such a place, and can find no evidence of such a place. Again, if you have proof of such a place please produce it and I will retract the statement.


Overall participation isn’t necessarily proof of lack of bias. In the US, for example, both boys and girls have a lot of participation in soccer as children but US society is definitely biased towards American football on the professional level, and we are getting a lot of reports of bias (including sexual harassment from coaching staff) towards professional women who play soccer even though they’re professionals.

You really do have to look at the situation for all levels of participation for both men and women. None of this takes places without a context.

That’s the fallacy of personal ignorance. You are in no position to make such a claim. You could just say that you aren’t aware of any such place and leave it at that.

In any case what I was referring to was never about a country being “non-gendered” regarding chess. That was never part of my hypothesis. I don’t even know what that means nor what it would look like.
What I did say was

Bolding mine. Nothing about some kind of perfect “non-gendered” situation.

No, that’s not how this is played. You are the one insisting on an example of a non-gendered country (without defining what that means) when my hypothesis does not require it. It merely suggests that changes in participation could correlate to changes in relative attainment. You don’t need a perfectly “non-gendered” country in order to test that out.

The burden of proof is not with me, I’ve not made the positive claim, you have. Again, a “non-gendered” country formed no part of my claim nor of my hypothesis.

Except this wasn’t based solely on a gut feeling - I did try to look for evidence of such a place and could find none. Are oncologists ignorant of a cure for cancer or have they just not found one yet?

If you have knowledge of such a place please produce it. Otherwise, please stop hammering away at me on this.

I have no idea why you’re trying to turn this into Great Debates and pigeonhole people who disagree with you (or pigeonhole me in particular) but this is supposed to be a discussion, not a battle.

We don’t know, but they would certainly be wrong to claim there was no cure for cancer wouldn’t they?

And part of that discussion is to understand what is going on. When you misinterpret a perfectly reasonable hypothesis that doesn’t help understanding.

You can’t compare the longest lived man ever to the oldest women alive today. That’s not logical, not in life expectancy, not in chess, not in anything else.

I wonder if this is related to women poker players. There are many great ones out there and some hold their own in tournaments but only one has ever made the final table in the WSOP Main Event and that was mid 90s. If I asked you to name the all-time greats in poker you’d give me who? Doyle Brunson, Stu Unger, Daniel Negreanu, etc. Would any women be on that list?

But just like chess, there’s no reason that women shouldn’t be on equal footing with the men so why aren’t they?

Why not?

Someone asserted there were no men in the “top 10 oldest people”. There might not be any today but that has occurred in the past. Just as there are currently no women in the “top 10 in chess” but there has been in the past.

It has been demonstrated it is POSSIBLE for a woman to be top 10 in chess, even if that condition does not apply today. It has been demonstrated it is POSSIBLE for a man to be in the top 10 oldest living people, even if that does not apply today. That demonstrates that there is not an iron ceiling, even if there may still be a ceiling not just of glass but thick, impact-resistant glass.

So fine - now that we know what is possible we can move to why these unicorns are not more common than they are. It might be that extraordinary chess ability occurs more rarely in women than men - but I want to look into social factors that may be eliminating women from the top levels of chess for reasons due to things other than ability.

A truly level playing field with equal opportunities will not necessarily result in equal outcomes. The trick is determining whether or not opportunity is truly equal or not.

That’s the first glance conclusion many make when seeing those results, but to me there’s a lot lacking in that hypothesis. If it is so that the selection of activities that show greater disparities in countries that otherwise provide more gender equal opportunity do so due to inherent interests, what makes the women in the “gender unequal” countries choose them? And if the answer is “cultural factors” then cultural factors need to be examined in the gender equal countries as well.

Gender equality being a one dimensional measure on the country level is fine and well as a first order approximation, but if you’re going to examine individual activities you have to acknowledge and work with all the other dimensions. You can’t just say people are only influenced by the two factors of overall national gender equality and personal preferences.

That’s not the relevant context.

Your statement I was responding to was that “If chess does favor traits men tend to favor more than women yes, I would still expect it to be male dominated (as, say, aviation continues to be) but it’s not male “dominated” at the highest level, it’s male only.

I observed that this is a mathematical misconception, and that traits which favor Group A over Group B can indeed produce Group A “only” at the highest levels, not just dominance. As an example, I cited longetivity, where this is manifested.

This is an annoying statistical derail, especially since I’m certain that you are correct that the actual gender distribution isn’t due to an underlying distribution in inherent skill.

I think everyone is talking past each other with regards to the oldest person in the world. The first mention of longevity did include “the top 10 today are female” along side “the top 10 ever” are female, and Jiroemon Kimura does indeed show that the “top ten today are female” is not a good argument. And the distribution is much less extreme than the one for gender in chess, so it’s not an obvious argument for the one for gender in chess being possible.

But this started with you stating it was simply impossible for the distribution seen today to exist due to inherent ability. Now perhaps we’ve been talking past each other all along and you meant “given what we know of gender differences in opportunity this distribution can’t possibly be due to a distribution in ability”, but I thought I’d been pretty clear I agree with that. If we just look at the math though we can get “males only at the top level”. In the 100m dash for instance. It’s difficult to get the actual numbers, but I’d be surprised if the number of male sprinters who could beat the fastest female wasn’t in the thousands.

Part of that assertion was my belief that there had NEVER been a woman in the top 10 in chess which, when someone gave an example of a woman who had been rated #8, I retracted. The upper levels are NOT “male only”, although they are darn close to it.

I realize there is a notion that people never change their position but if you read the entire thread you will see that when someone presents a counter-example to something I’ve said I acknowledge it. In other words, my position has changed since the post you cite due to new evidence being shown to me. But hey, keep arguing with me-in-the-past instead of me-in-the-present if that’s what makes you happy, I guess.

Some people are focusing on results, saying that because women are so rarely featured in the highest level of chess they just don’t have the same level of “chess ability”. I, and some others, have been countering that until you deal with the anti-female bias in chess from the lowest levels you can’t state women don’t have the ability. Some playing fields in chess are better than others, but none are even near level in the world at this point as far as I can tell.

A few generations ago the argument against hiring women as university professors was that there were no female university professors. There weren’t any because they weren’t even considered for hiring because, since there were none, they “obviously” weren’t suited to the job. Rinse and repeat for a lot of professions and endeavors.

Although I can’t really find where you acknowledged this point, I’m going to assume that’s due to my reading comprehension. I apologise for posting in a way that made me indistinguishable from the champions of the “It could be gender differences” brigade.

Sure, I wouldn’t think of concluding anything without doing some sort of multivariate analysis first. The hypothesis I put forward is a place to start and not where we end. It may prove impossible to unpick all the societal and cultural factors that underlie the choices that the sexes make.

We do however have a starting point, an observation and some data that is interesting and that has the potential to help us test the hypothesis that greater participation by women leads to greater attainment. Where that leads we do not know.

I agree, that would be too simplistic and I suspect there are far more factors at play (and that confound, interract and amplify) regarding why fewer women than men attain the highest levels of chess.
At the very least we would look at social, cultural and inherent sex differences and with multiple factors in each of those.