Why are women inferior?

All I can say is how happy I am to have a message board where I have the freedom to post a question I’m genuinely curious about without worrying about the PC police beating me within an inch of my life.

The VAST majority of athletic competitions are won hands down by males. I’m trying to understand why. The simple explanation is: different bodies structures. But can that cover the whole of it?

I’m not talking about averages here. Hell, the average female could probably kick my ass at the 100 yard dash. I’m talking about best of the best.

The best female marathon runner will lose by 14 minutes to the best male marathon runner.
In a 5,000 meter skating race, the best female would need a 50 second head start.
The list goes on and on. One of the few I’ve found where women do better is archery. But overall, it’s males straight down the list. Why is this?
We’re talking about the best in the world here. People who have chosen an activity they’re good at and trained their body to do even better at it. Yet consistently women fall short.

Heck, even non-physical activities leave me perplexed. Irina Krush is the world’s best female chess player. At 18, she still has time to develop, certainly, but she’s not even in the top 100 overall.

So what gives?

I have heard it said that some(and I’m assigning no proportions or judgement here ) say that the slightly different genetic structures of males and females allow for more diversity in men. This could be a useful trait for the improvement of the species: i.e., men, being endowed by nature with a more aggressive attitude overall, would be more prone to dying if less fit. On the other hand, those with stronger bodies, smarter brains, or sheer better luck would survive and pass on that strong genetics.

In other words, it could be a method for increasing the average brainpower over time.

What the actual effect is that men tend to be further at the extremes that women, who would be more conservative, genetically, and better able to choose the right mates.

Of course, I’m not entirely convinced of this angle. I’m not even sure where I heard it, and I’m even less certain that the underlying genetic premise is right.

I’d guess that traditionally, athletic competitions have been geared toward men. It’s natural then that the most popular events would be the ones that most take advantage of mens’ strengths.

How about the flexibility and tumbling requirements of gymnastics? How about figure skating? Women win hands down.

Don’t know about non-physical events. Maybe because girls aren’t generally encouraged to compete as much as boys, leading to a smaller pool of potential female competitors?

Remember that body size, and (probably) athletic ability, are distributed on a bell curve (to a reasonable approximation).

Human males, on average, are something on the order of 10% larger than females (of the same population). With regard to athletic ability, this difference is probably accentuated by the effect of testostone on enhancing muscle mass.

For men, it’s not simply that the average is higher, but that the whole curve is shifted. Therefore, the topmost fraction of men will be beyond the end of the topmost part of the curve for women.

This is simply a matter of probabilities. Given such a 10% difference in average size, in a large population it is extremely likely that virtually all of the largest/strongest individuals will be men.

Women would have a better chance if matched by size/weight class against men. But still, the testoterone factor is likely to give men an edge anyway in having/building/maintaining muscle mass.


Not to say that Women may or may not be supirior in gymnastics or figureskating, but, these are subjective “sports”. They are given a score by judges. As such, who is “best” is subject to the judges at the time.

Also, these sports are rarely a solo endevour in that the skater/gymnast has a coach(s). And their routine is often VERY important to winning (which the gymnast rarely makes themselves. And, often the coaches are male (whatever that is worth).

Before I even start here, women are * not * inferior, but certainly are different from males…thank God. Males are stronger because of gender induced traits (testosterone makes for more developed muscles). Some folks claim the evolutionary force favoring greater muscle development and aggressive behavior is competition among males for mating rights, which would allow only the stronger or more aggressive males to procreate. One reason males tend to outperform females in tests of agility (sprinting hurdles, whatever) is because the body structure of an adult female is not exactly designed for athletic competiton. Wider hips and a higher percent body fat (in general relative to males) hinders their performance. Their bodies are designed with certain characteristics to accomidate fetal development and child birth. Other side of the coin is (I’m told) women have a much easier time with endurance type excersizes (not including your marathon example because of differences in pelvic dimensions).

I’m assuming your chess statement implies that you feel men are more capable intellectually?? I would agree that rationale differs among men and women. It’s been my experience that men (especially me) tend to do stupid things for fun or entertainment. Women (or at least my girlfriend) does/say less than rational things typically for emotional reasons. Either one more or less reasonable probably not…


Women are not inferior. They often beat men in ultramarathons.

Who cares if men can run 100 yards faster. Women can run 50 miles faster. You tell me who is inferior. :slight_smile:

One comment re: figureskating. Taking the artistic performance away for a minute, how good one is can arguably be judged by ability to do jumps. If you use this critera, far more men than women can do and land the triple axle, and I believe that only Brian Boitano can do his version of the triple lutz, which I’m told is pretty much the most difficult jump ever.

Here’s a good article that should help in this discussion. My quotes below are from this: Strength Training for Women: Debunking Myths That Block Opportunity

I’ll stop there to avoid copyright issues but there plenty more to be read at the link I provided.

As for ‘sports’ like chess and pool (e.g. billiards) I can see no reason why women shouldn’t be able to compete on the same level as men. More male grandmaster chess players may be a societal phenomenon more than a capability phenomenon. Then again men and women do think differently (at least to my mind…I’ve found men to be more linear in their thinking and women more circular – neither approach is better than the other and each has its own strengths and weaknesses). Perhaps chess lends itself more readily to men’s thinking style. Men are more spacially adept than women and perhaps this gives men a leg up as regards chess and pool. Just a guess though…

Regarding chess, I threw that out there as an example that I was confused about. I am NOT saying that men are intellectually superior to women, just that I found it odd that over 100 men could beat the best woman in the world.

Also, others have explained that figure skating, et al, is subjectively judged. More importantly, though, men and women do not compete directly with each other and so there’s no way to tell who is better anyway.

The simple (though unpopular) reason is that men and women are different.

As regards chess playing, I’ve met two people who consistently humiliate me at that game – both female.

I would agree that women’s under-representation in chess championships is more a result of enculturation than innate ability.

Generally speaking, men have certain physical advantages over women. I think that it’s ludicrous to say that that makes women physically inferior–

The best male athletes tend to outperform the best female athletes at something like, say, basketball.

Most women are capable of the extraordinary feat of birthing a child-- something about which no man who’s observed it up close is likely to say “I’ll bet I could do that.”

In this regard, I consider that women are vastly superior to men-- and we could leave off professional sports for generations with no repercussions apart from getting a bit more work done, but that whole human reproduction thing is serious business.



Among other things women outlive men which when you come down to it is the bottom line.

Also, I recall seeing something that showed women are excelling faster in sports than men are. If you chart the best times in, say, swimming or running events the fastest men’s times have only creeped up while women’s fastest times are leaping up. In short, women are closing the gap between the fastest man and the fastest woman. About the only thing women aren’t likely to beat men in anytime soon are strictly strength based tasks such as weight lifting.

Ok Larry, you made a good post but you committed a few PC logical errors that the OP was talking about.

#1 is the antidote: We don’t really care how good YOU are personally at chess or how many or your female friends can beat you at any time. The point is that the top 100 or so best male chess players in the world can beat almost ALL-female chess players. You will run into the same problem in fields like abstract mathematics. We only have a rough idea as to why this is but you can bet your ass that it isn’t all environmental.

#2 is the childbirth example. We may never know how males will handle childbirth because it is not physiologically possible at this time. My wife is 8 months pregnant and I respect her greatly for having to go through this terribly painful, dangerous process but this doesn’t have much to the do with the OP does it? I would gladly take her place if I could (and I think that I could do a pretty good job).

The point is that the OP raises a good, although rather broad question?

Why do males excel at the high end of so many endeavors? It does not have much to do with the workings of society as a whole because we are talking about a contest between so few people.

However, you can graph almost any test of mental performance and you will find that males are almost always the outliers on both end of the scale. That is, you will find that the people that perform terribly and stand out at the high-end are male. The averages will be roughly the same with many measures of language and verbal skills favoring females.

No one fully understands why and that is why it is a good question and highly unlikely to be fully answered in this forum.

Mammalian reproductive strategies.

Placental mammals have internal fertilization, and the females carry the young internally. Males have a much lower physiologic contribution to the offspring, whereas females have a very resource contribution. And males typically are able to potentially fertilize many females in a mating season, while females can typically have only one litter, it doesn’t matter how many males they mate with.

This means that males typically contribute almost no parental care to the offspring, whereas females typically contribute a great deal. Males are able to “walk away” after mating, whereas females cannot. Contrast this with birds, where both males and females are able to walk away from the eggs. In birds, males often contribute a great deal to parental care.

So we have males competing to reproduce. There are many ways they can do this, but often this means physical competition. Male sheep butt heads, so male sheep have bigger horns, stronger necks, and larger body size. Female sheep are a more optimum size, but a male sheep the size of a typical female sheep would have lower reproductive success than a larger male. So large size is a secondary sexual characteristic.

When we look at primates, we find the same thing. Male gorillas are often more than twice the size of female gorillas, same with male orangutans. Male chimps are larger than female chimps. And male humans are about 10-20% larger than female humans. But, lets look at gibbons. Males and females form lifelong pairs. Males hardly ever compete for females. Gibbons don’t have much sexual dimorphism. And male gibbons contribute a lot of parental care. Male humans are somewhere in the middle between the extremely dimorphic gorillas and orangs, where there is a lot of male-male competition for mates, and the extremely non-dimorphic gibbons, where there is almost no direct male-male competion.

And when we look at human social groups, we find that humans typically form long term pair bonds like gibbons do, but that high-status males often have multiple females.

So…male humans are larger and stronger than female humans because males have had to physically struggle for the right to mate with female humans during human evolutionary history. We have less direct competion than some of our relatives, but more than others. Also, we might speculate that competition has had some mental effects too. When women take testosterone they often find they get angry more easily, they feel more violent and competitive. It wouldn’t suprise me that men are more interested in competitive activities even when those activities aren’t physical.

No, that’s not how natural selection works. It does not aim for any “goal” such as increased average brainpower, so it has no need for any “methods”. Natural selection applies at the level of the individual, and knows and cares nothing for the welfare or future development of the species.

Let me put forth the concept that we have bred men to excell in certain athletic activities while we have not bred women for that.

“No, No TV,” I hear you say. “We do not breed our people to become athletes or ornaments or whatever. We do that with horses and dogs and similar domesticated animals.”

And you would be correct to a certain obvious extent, but on the other, more subtle, hand we do breed our species. Our selection process for breeding humans is not quite as objective is all. In fact, for millenium we have bred men to be runners, a jumpers, thrower and in the case of chess, inductive thinkers. The selection criterion was at first survival, but later it became desirability which logically sprang from that early ability to survive. Those things which were deemed to be desireable in men in the early days of civilization were exactly those things which make them “less inferior” in athletic contests today. They were “naturally” (albeit very subjectively done as they fought in war, hammered out a horseshoe or rowed a boat) selected to step to the next rung by just those skills.

Women being competent in similar skills has only been acceptable for at the very most about 70 years (or less). This has hardly provided a chance for evolution to get a toehold in this area; but even in that reletively small span of time, we have seen the margin between the two sexes grow smaller and smaller. You mentioned the 14 minute difference for the male and female marathoners, 20 years ago you would be talking a 40 minute difference, in speed skating it would have been three to five minutes.

Every year in almost every sport the gap narrows, but it will take time. For God’s sake women have only been allowed to be seriously muscular and sweat for about 30 or 40 years, and really it has only been relatively recently that men have begun to find it desireable. Who knows what could happen in another 800 years or so?

Hey, fillies have won the Kentucky Derby.

Is it generally accepted that women are superior in gymnastics and figure skating? Are there competitions open to both men and women, that allow ready comparison?

I should note that I’m deeply ignorant of both these sports – you could not readily find someone who knows less than I do.

I always thought higher variability of measurable traits in males was due largely to sex-linked recessive genes. Is this not correct?

(Biology 101 Note: There are 23 chromosomes in a normal human, one of which determines sex. Females have XX, males XY. There is virtually nothing expressed on the Y chromosome, therefore recessive genes on the X chromosome will be expressed most often in males, since a female must have the recessive on both copies of the X chromosome to express the gene. The most famous sex-linked recessive is hemophilia)

Numerous posters have talked about bell curves and how men are bigger and stronger than women.

This is in fact irrelevant. Most champion athletes are not at the extremes of any of the measurement bell curves. They are not exceptionally tall, they are not exceptionally heavy and they are not exceptionally strong.

There are many women who have similar physical characteristics and their ranges in particular physical measurements overlaps the men’s.

What makes a champion athlete is the microbiology of their cells. They can absorb oxygen better, they can use nutrients better, they have a different range of muscles fibres, and they have a better energy storage system.

The reason men are better athletes than women is that their chemical make-up (testosterone, etc etc, etc) makes their cells work better than an equivalent sized and trained woman.

Making bigger/stronger women won’t help as the champions already beat bigger/stronger men.

The only way women can beat men is to choose a sport where their microbiology is superior overall to men’s. Someone cited ultra-marathon, so better cell biology processes may be the reason there.