The gender debate

Now here is a controversial topic to kick things off!
You might want to read the background info below before answering. Also please feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the page.
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In both chess and bridge males dominate at the top level. A 2009 study showed that the presence of 1 female player in the top 100 chess players can be explained by the overrepresentation of male players in the game (16:1) http://phys.org/news/2009-01-men-higher-women-chess-biological.html. In bridge the majority of players are female. The top 100 players based on WBF Masterpoint rankings contains no women http://www.worldbridge.org/open-classification.aspx.

The World Bridge Federation, zonal federations and many nations run competitions with a women’s/ladies category. There is a lot of debate about whether the division should exist mainly because it assumes that women are inferior players to men.

The existence of the women’s division itself is a debate for another day. It is sometimes seen as a gateway to the open grade but some people believe the availability of the category may be hindering female performance. This belief is held because it means that female players do not have to pursue open competitions. Eg. would you prefer play in a division that you think you could win or play in another division where your chances wouldn’t be as high.

What do you think? Is it that women are just as good as men with many choosing to compete in the women’s events rather than open or is there a skill difference?

Feel free to leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page.

4 Comments on “The gender debate

  1. IMHO on balance the women’s/ladies category fosters rather than hinders high-level women’s bridge. Most women and men play in a mixed environment for most of their bridge play but at the highest level representing their country effectively it becomes an almost gender separate event with overwhelmingly all male teams in Open, and naturally all female teams in women’s/ladies.
    If there were no women’s/ladies competitions it could just be blokes with a very few women breaking through, I think there would be a lot less interest for women.
    Why do men get selected for Open teams? [This may get me brickbats] (a) women have the option of playing in women’s/ladies category so rule themselves out, but also some areas of male advantage (b) stamina and sustained concentration (c) resilience in tight situations (d) robustness in risk taking (e) certain advantages in spatial planning during card play (f) more adaptable in unfamiliar situations. I think there are some advantages women players often have (none of these gender characteristics are universal): partnership harmony, system security, dependability.
    It would be interesting to discover what the percentage of mixed rather than same-sex partnerships play in your local club and local competitions.

  2. Being the son of a female national chess master who won the Danish women championship fourteen tines I can only say this discussion is irrelevant, most of the females playing chess ar far better than the average male players, yet there are only a few at the world class level. One can speculate about the reasons for this, but I do not believe its related to gender specific skills. Personally I think is a matter of prioritization (and level of authism:)

  3. I have never been in a position in my life including bridge where I had thought I would like to swap this woman for a man. ( maybe only if I was looking for some physical strength).
    The reasons as to why woman are so under represented at the top levels of bridge is beyond me. It is certainly not to do with a lack of intellect or problem solving skills. That’s absurd with no supporting evidence.

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