That’s the title (except for the parentheses) of Heather Mac Donald’s op-ed in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:
Since the World Scrabble Championship began in 1991, all winners have been male. The North American Scrabble Championship has had one female winner (in 1987) since its founding in 1978. All eight finalists in this year’s French World Scrabble Championships were men.
Competitive Scrabble constitutes a natural experiment for testing the feminist worldview. According to feminist dogma, males and females are identical in their aptitudes and interests. If men dominate certain data-based, abstract fields like engineering, physics and math, that imbalance must, by definition, be the result of sexism—whether a patriarchal culture that discourages girls from math or implicit bias in the hiring process.
But there are no cultural expectations that discourage females from memorizing dictionaries—a typical strategy of competitive Scrabble players, often in a foreign language that the player doesn’t speak. Girls are as free as boys to lap up vocabulary. Nor are there misogynist gatekeepers to keep females out of Scrabble play; the game, usually first learned at home, is open to all. According to Hasbro, 83% of recreational Scrabble players 25 to 54 are female.
Championship Scrabble, however, rewards typically male obsessions: strategy, math, a passion for competition, and a drive to memorize facts. Feminists will need to employ circular logic to conjure forth a discriminatory barrier in Scrabble: Males’ excellence at a certain activity itself keeps females out. But that leaves unanswered the question of how males came to excel at Scrabble—or any other abstract, competitive activity—in the first place.
The National Geographic Geography Bee shows similar results. Since 1989, boys have won 27 times, girls twice. Nothing prevents or discourages girls from vacuuming up the details of an atlas. But the National Geographic Society has already been sued for discriminating against girls based on that winner ratio alone, as economist Mark Perry has noted. Expect a similar attack on Mattel, sponsor of the World Scrabble Championship, if the Scrabble numbers become widely known.
Feminists have persuaded policy makers that only patriarchal inequity can explain the male dominance of Silicon Valley and of pure research. The archetypal male science geek, ignoring the demands of ordinary life so he can solve a physics problem or write code, is out of sight, out of mind. But the same maniacal pursuit of mastery that leads someone to spend every waking moment poring over a dictionary to prepare for a Scrabble tournament has also led to the computer revolution and to the West’s conquest of disease and natural disaster. Diverting time and resources from actual STEM research into gender politics is reckless when China is becoming increasingly competitive with the U.S. in technology.
It’s time to face reality about differences between males and females. Let the chips fall where they may.