Chess and the Gender Gap in the New York Times

7/14/2016 – In 2007 an Italian study wanted to find out if and how gender affects performance in chess. The result surprises. According to the study women play better if they don't know whether their opponent is a man or a woman. But why is that so? And why is there such a marked gender gap in the non-physical sport of chess? The New York Times wanted to know more about this persistent puzzle.

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4 Young Chess Masters Tackle a Persistent Puzzle: The Gender Gap

Maggie Feng, 15, at the Marshall Chess Club in New York on Wednesday. She
was one of four female masters to participate in an elite clinic at the club.

(Credit Alex Wroblewski/The New York Times)

Fourteen of the nation’s top young chess masters came to New York this week for an elite clinic at the Marshall Chess Club. Four of them were girls. For proponents of gender parity in chess, this was progress.

At a front table, as several boys yelled out answers to a chess puzzle, Carissa Yip, 12, handed a yellow paper to the instructor, Greg Shahade. “You wrote down one move,” Mr. Shahade said. “That’s it?”

Carissa, who at age 11 became the youngest American girl ever to attain the rank of master, did not blink. “It’s a brilliant move,” she deadpanned. “You’re so needy.”

It is one of the vexing questions in chess: Why, in a sport where physical differences do not matter, are boys and men so much more prominent than their female counterparts, despite efforts to attract more girls and women? ...

Full article at the New York Times...

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dansafee dansafee 7/15/2016 12:02
Maybe, just maybe, women are underrepresented in chess, because.... less women enter the sport. Shocking, I know.

Over 90% of the prison population is male. Should we be concerned that women be equally represented there too?
Vernunft Vernunft 7/15/2016 07:28
The top ten women are already allowed to have a shot at the Candidates. They just haven't been good enough since Judit Polgar.


I love the question-begging of the NYT article that "physical differences do no matter" in chess. Says who?!
spfamy1 spfamy1 7/15/2016 02:30
I posted a comment on Reddit a few months ago arguing it's time to allow the top ten women players to have a shot at the Candidates match for the World Championship. I was downvoted furiously for making this suggestion. I think it's time the FIDE needs to step in and make this change. It would generate interest in women's chess and allow women players to imagine going for the World Championship.
fons fons 7/14/2016 08:09
"Even so, Ms. Moskowitz said, the percentage of girls playing waned in middle school, and dwindled to “very few girls playing in high school.”"

Exactly. Ask any teacher who works with kids and they'll tell you the same thing: girls drop out once they become teenagers. On average women are less interested in competition (of any kind) than men. This fact alone is the main explanation of the difference imo.

And yes there are plenty of genetic differences between men and women (apart from physical). So not everything is due to 'nurture'.

And sure: social pressures will play a role, but are far from the whole story.

Also people need to learn that anecdotal evidence is meaningless. And citing a single case that contradicts the general trend is also meaningless.

@ Chessspawnvt: Everything has pro's and con's. But one could certainly argue that having separate tournaments for women only strengthens the idea that women are too weak to compete with men.
basler88 basler88 7/14/2016 06:50
Thanks Chesspawnvt I fully agree with you, Chess shouldn't have separate events any more we're in the 21st century and soon we have the first women President! Lets go US Chess and be the first without gender separations!
Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 7/14/2016 04:42
It's time for chess federations and organizers to realize that holding girl/women only events does not help women in the long term. I do wish that a national federation like, US Chess, would take the lead and no longer sanction girls only tournaments.

"Separate is inherently unequal."--Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas (US Sup. Ct. 1954)