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More on Sex and Supreme Court Clerks:

Ann Althouse (whose work I generally very much like) bristles at one of the several candidate explanations I included in my earlier post:

Eugene Volokh asks why are there so many more male Supreme Court clerks than female? His first guess is:

Is the cause possible differences in innate intelligence at the tail ends of the bell curve (what I'd heard called the idiot-genius syndrome, which leads men to be overrepresented both among the very low-IQ and the very high-IQ)?

Oh, please. I know it's in question form, but really...

Perhaps I misunderstand Ann's reason for the "Oh, please." Still, I'd have thought that when one is seeking the causes of disparities such as this, the possibility of men's biologically caused overrepresentation at the tail ends of the IQ bell curve must be one candidate explanation that one should consider. Even if the effect is relatively small, too small to explain by itself a 2.5 to 1 disparity (just to use as an example the disparity the year I clerked), it may still be important as one of the explanations: Five causes, each of which would cause an extra 1.2 to 1 disparity, can multiply out to 2.5 to 1. And I'd think that any analysis that infers some cause -- or estimates the magnitude of some cause -- from the disparity but fails to consider this other possible cause would itself be unsound.

Of course this potential explanation might ultimately prove to be entirely unsound -- but is there really any a priori reason why we should dismiss it as implausible? Has scientific research, for instance, conclusively dismissed this possibility? I'd be delighted if people who (unlike me) have actually seriously studied sex-based cognitive differences (or the absence of such differences) could speak to that.

(I should note that my listing the possibility of intelligence differences first wasn't meant to suggest that I think this is likely the most important factor, just as my listing the possibility of sex discrimination second wasn't meant to suggest that I think it was the second most important factor. I really don't know which if any of the factors are important, or how important they are.)

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