It goes without saying that all of the great scientists and inventors in history were men; in fact it's so obvious that most consider it hardly worth mentioning.
IQ doesn't entirely explain it. I've heard that men average 5 points higher than women in IQ tests, though I'm not sure whether that's true. (If true, it's not exactly a well publicized fact.) Over the past few decades boys have on average scored slightly higher on the math portion of the SAT's, but girls have scored higher on the verbal.
It's not as if there aren't plenty of very smart women around. I've personally known several, and have had the pleasure of "meeting" (in cyberspace) a couple more through this blog. These are women who have common sense as well as insight, write well, and have a sense of humor to boot.
Some of the smart women I've known had personal issues which could sometimes skew their thinking, but that didn't detract from their intelligence. (And I've known intelligent men with issues as well.)
So why is it only men who were the great geniuses? It's not as if women weren't given the opportunity to lead. There were female monarchs, like Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. There were even female military leaders, like Boudicca and Joan of Arc.
So why no great female creative geniuses?
There's obviously only one possible answer: the way that male hormones shape the brain. They provide that special magic -- yes, that word again -- that provides the creative spark somehow.
But here's the more interesting question: if it's testosterone that gives the brain the juice it needs to become a creative genius, why is it that many of the greatest geniuses tended to be not particularly masculine men?
If you look at pictures of great military and political leaders, you'll see a fair number of guys who were obviously just bursting with male hormones. Think of Charlemagne, a rugged 6' 5" in an era when most men were 5'7". (There's some dispute about this height, but he was definitely over six feet.) Henry VIII was also over six feet and sturdily-built; when young -- before he got fat -- he could leap onto a horse while in full armor. Genghis Khan was reportedly bursting with muscle. Think of George Washington, 6' 2" and strongly built.
If you want to be a leader of men, it doesn't hurt to look like a champion wrestler. People are naturally inclined to kowtow to a man who looks fearsome.
Now look at pictures of the great geniuses. I've included scientists and mathematicians, but stayed away from writers and composers, since their output must be judged more subjectively. And, admittedly, we must view the figures above who predated photography through the eyes their portraitists.
But even so, it's clear that most didn't represent an extreme of masculinity. They had enough testosterone so that their brains became male. Most seem to be ectomorphs; there are surprisingly few mesomorphs or endomorphs among their number. Anyway, here they are, in no particular order:
Leonardo da Vinci:
J. Robert Oppenheimer:
I admit, this list was ever so slightly cherry-picked: I omitted Descartes and Galileo simply because they looked too androgenized; but, those were the only two on my original list whom I left out.
In case you're curious, here's Galileo, as renowned for his intellectual courage as his intellect:
And Rene Descartes, who was a great mathematician as well as philosopher, and who looked as if he could have been Sean Connery's ugly brother:
But for the most part, these guys are of average masculinity. None are quite effeminate; but none look as if they might have been cast in The Expendables 2. Several of them also seem to have a strikingly serene look.
Anyway, the point is, the elixir for true genius requires testosterone -- but too much of it may ruin the formula.