I've got the live coverage of the U.S. Chess Championships on my other laptop. Right now GM Susan Polgar, who runs the chess program at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri USA, is being interviewed by GM Maurice Ashley. GM Ray Robson, a current student at Webster, is playing Gata Kamsky today for a share of the lead in the final regulation game, played a move that a young (15 year old) Judit Polgar played back in the day during the Hungarian National Championship. In that game, Judit drew with GM Portisch and went on to WIN the championship, the first female ever to do so, and she also incidentally, scored her third and final GM norm and thus broke the record set by GM Bobby Fischer as being the youngest player at the time to earn the GM title. As chess fans know, GM Susan Polgar herself was one of the female pioneers to break the gender barrier in chess and was the first female player to qualify for the world chess championship cycle -- but she was not allowed to play - simply because of her gender! This wasn't that long ago either, in the early to mid-1980's!!!!! Absolutely shocking and disgusting treatment of one of the premier chessplayers in the world at the time.
So, I guess you could say we've come a long way, baby. On the other hand, there are still people out there who say that females cannot play chess as well as male players, who point to the lack of high-rated female players to support their house-of-cards nonsensical assertions. In fact, many studies have blasted this chauvenistic-based belief out of the water, but it continues to poison said water. One of the most concise recent studies (2008) I've read on the subject is Checkmate? The role of gender stereotypes in the ultimate intellectual sport, by Anne Maass, Claudio D'Ettole and Mara Cadinu, Universit of Padova, Italy.
Women are surprisingly underrepresented in the chess world, representing less that 5% of registeredtournament players worldwide and only 1% of the world’s grand masters. In this paper it is argued that gender stereotypes are mainly responsible for the underperformance of women in chess. Forty-two male–female pairs, matched for ability, played two chess games via Internet. When players were
unaware of the sex of opponent (control condition), females played approximately as well as males.
When the gender stereotype was activated (experimental condition), women showed a drastic
performance drop, but only when they were aware that they were playing against a male opponent.
When they (falsely) believed to be playing against a woman, they performed as well as their male
opponents. In addition, our findings suggest that women show lower chess-specific self-esteem and a
weaker promotion focus, which are predictive of poorer chess performance.