Men Are Threatened By Smart Women, Says New Study, But Smart Women In History Couldn't Care Less
If you've ever thought there might actually be something to the theory that men are intimidated by smart women, you're about to get some validation. In a new study to be published in November's Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers discovered that — while men like the idea of dating a smarter woman in theory — coupling up with a brainy lady might be threatening to men's masculinity.
To come to this determination, researchers from the University of Buffalo, the University of Texas at Austin, and California Lutheran University polled male participants using a hypothetical scenario involving a woman who had either outperformed or underperformed the man in a math or English class. Happily, the preliminary results proved men do fancy ladies with smarts. "Men formed favorable impressions and showed greater interest in women who displayed more (versus less) intelligence than themselves," the researchers reveal.
The men were then asked to consider the dateability of said woman, though. For the second leg of the study, they were given what they thought was an I.Q. test and told they'd be meeting a woman who scored either better or worse than them. Long story short, when faced with meeting and potentially dating a woman who was smarter than them, the fellas flaked. In a real life application, smarter women were essentially penalized for outperforming the men, who "distanced themselves more from her, tended to rate her as less attractive, and showed less desire to exchange contact information or plan a date with her."
Does this reek of the whole Madonna-whore dichotomy, whereby men cannot reconcile that a woman can be both virtuous and sexy — or, in this case, both smart and desirable? Or could it simply be men's fear of being rejected by smarter or more successful women that drives this behavior? Obviously, there are plenty of dudes in the world who absolutely dig dating women who are intelligent. We know this, because there are so many hella smart hetero ladies out there who are happily partnered with hetero men. And, since the scholars who conducted the study caution more research needs to be done to corroborate their conclusion, we've gotta take these findings with a grain of salt. Still, the fever pitch surrounding gender bias today — particularly in a professional capacity — would seem to suggest that many men do perceive women as a threat and seek to keep said smart women in a holding pattern so as not to upset the patriarchal balance.
Although psychologists say this mentality can be overcome, we'll be more inclined to believe it when gender equality is a way of life as opposed to a buzz phrase. Until then, let's celebrate some seriously clever women who were brainy badasses with our without romantic validation — aka, they DGAF.
1. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 - 1910)
British-born Elizabeth Blackwell attended Geneva College in New York after being rejected by every other major medical school in the country due to her sex. Ultimately, she became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and later went on to found a women's medical college to train other female physicians.
2. Amalie Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935)
Widely hailed as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, Amalie Emily Noether made groundbreaking contributions to physics and algebra. All of this despite the fight that, upon graduation from the University of Erlangen, where her father lectured, Noether worked without pay at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen for seven years and was also resigned to lecturing at the University of Gottingen under the name of a male colleague after being rejected — all because of her gender.
3. Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964)
An American marine biologist and naturalist, Rachel Carson is credited with advancing the global environmental movement through her writings. Her book, Silent Spring, awoke an unprecedented number of people to the problems caused by synthetic pesticides. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.
4. Dorothy Height (1912 - 2010)
Although Dorothy Height died childless, her legacy lives on in her impacting contributions as an educator, civil rights activist, and women's movement leader impressed upon the proverbial "multitude of daughters" she left behind. Height — who championed for all women, and specifically the issues affecting African-American women — was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
5. Cerrie Burnell (1979 - present)
In the face of certain adversity, Cerrie Burnell has not flinched. An actress, singer, playwright, children's author and television personality, Burnell was born with a right arm that ends just below the elbow. Upon being named a host of BBC's children's channel, CBeebies, Burnell — then 30-years-old — was lampooned by parents who claimed her arm frightened young children and should be covered up. She didn't back down and now uses her experience to raise awareness for those with disabilities and encourage kindness. She is also an advocate for single mothers, as she is one herself.
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