Barbara Kay: The glaring flaw of ‘The Queens Gambit’ that no one wants to mention – National Post

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We cant blame the disparity on gatekeepers or bias in coaching. The Queens Gambit shows, authentically, that any kid is welcome at any chess club. Once promise is shown, gender is a non-issue. As Harmon systematically overtakes all her former male peers, they respond with deference and offers of support rather than resentment.

In a 2015 Aeon magazine article titled, Wheres Bobbi Fischer?, New York writer Hana Schank struggled to explain the chess gender gap with the argument that the recruitment pool was male-skewed. Up to Grade 3, she found, girls have been taking up chess in record numbers. But once it becomes competitive, the girls tend to drop out at a furious pace. Still, amongst those girls who do persist and female persistence in chess is far more common in other countries such as Russia, China and India than in North America there should be at least a few over the centuries, at least one, to achieve parity with the top-ranking men. Schank makes a valiant pitch for external factors, like too few female coaches, being the problem, but they are not persuasive. Geniuses do not require gender models.

To me, chess is so universally standardized, accessible and culturally unencumbered an activity, it can be considered a control experiment in sex-based differences between men and women. I happen to subscribe to the male variability hypothesis, which posits male dominance at the highest and lowest ends of the cognitive scale, so the chess sex gap doesnt disturb me at all.

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Barbara Kay: The glaring flaw of 'The Queens Gambit' that no one wants to mention - National Post

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