This project analyses discourses surrounding gender and the politics of I.Q. It investigates the way in which written texts in this area clarify or obscure oppressive gender relationships in society. I take the position that the content of the news is not a factual account of the world but instead it imposes ideological values of socio-economic origin. The analyzed data consists of an article drawn from the BBC News webpage. This text is linked to contemporary research on I.Q. and reflects the complex and subtle discursive work surrounding gender inequalities.
It follows that, traditional psychologists hold the ideological position that ‘intelligence’ is objectively measurable and consists of ‘cognitive’ traits (Cernovsky, 1991). Thus, they assume that language is a passive ‘tool’ through which ‘intelligence’ can be conceptualized (Alec & Rapley, 2003). Consequently, mainstream Psychology encourages language norms and restrictions that support the image of I.Q. research as value-free science (Parker, 1997). Such norms are also adopted by journalists who pretentiously attempt to report news in an unambiguous ‘fashion’ (Fowler, 1991).
However, discourse analysts regard psychological phenomena such as ‘intelligence’ as discursive actions rather then intrapsychic processes (Cernovsky, 1994). Thus, we can argue that ‘I.Q.’ is something that people do through the use of language rather than something they have (Kamin, 1995). Therefore, instead of being a passive ‘window’, language and scientific sounding words such as ‘Intelligence Quotient’ have a performative function in ‘writing’ particular versions of ‘truth’ (Antaki, 2006). Hence, I use Discourse Analysis (DA) as a method of investigating the pragmatics of language-use and its contribution towards perpetuating gender inequity. I also draw upon Feminist Psychology to put forward alternative discourses through which gender and intelligence could be reconstructed.Feminist research has become paradigmatic for much discourse analysis, especially since much of the research surrounding DA explicitly deals with social inequality (Frith, 1998; Speer, 2001b). I also engage in a critical discussion of the moral and socio-political implications of legitimizing the assumption of ‘women’ as intellectually inferior. I argue that intelligence and gender are not stable and natural but fluid, dynamic and constructed through discourse. Finally, I discuss the methodological strengths and weaknesses of DA by looking critically at my work and making transparent its underpinning assumptions. health and safety awareness course