Obviously I’m not alone in my ongoing dilemma as to when, if at all, to mention my membership in Mensa. It always felt a bit awkward, and maybe I dreaded the possibility, that someone would think me pretentious or an arrogant ass for even mentioning the fact. When is it OK to let it be known? Should you even put it on your resume? If so, does that put you in ‘bad light’ in the eyes of a potential employer? If you don’t reference it on your resume, could you possibly be sabotaging your chances of securing a job that requires logical reasoning and high intelligence? Just where do you draw the line? And, if you were to put it on your resume, or bring it up during the interview process, just how would you do so?
Try looking at it from a different perspective. Let’s say you’re applying for a job that receives numerous applicants for the same type of job. Your degree is probably no different from dozens of others being considered. What sets your resume apart from all the others? The fact that you may have a Masters instead of Bachelors? Or, a Doctorate instead of a Masters? What about if your degree is from a prestigious university and not a local community or state college? As an applicant, wouldn’t you want to stress where you were educated and the level of your education? And maybe, if you are just entering the job market, you’d want to point out your GPA or making the Dean’s List? Aren’t these the things a potential employer would want to know? I mean, if I’m looking to hire the best qualified applicants for a position, wouldn’t I then want the most ‘bang’ for my buck, so to speak? The answer should be obvious, right?
Why is it considered ‘bad form’ to mention your IQ? Are professional athletes ridiculed for being good at what they do? When was the last time someone said “Hey, you don’t have to excel at so-and-so! Show-off!” to an MLB, NFL, NBA player or other professional athlete? Athletes are highly regarded in their particular sport… so why aren’t highly intelligent people viewed in a similar light?
Below are a few comments gleaned from a recent discussion among fellow Mensans on a private FaceBook thread. Even among ourselves, we struggle with answering this question. The question asked was “Is a Mensa membership something to be proud of?”
Response #1: The profoundly stupid can do things we can not do… This guy I work with amazes me with his stupidity every day… But he should be ashamed in the same way I am proud … But he is way too stupid to realize he is stupid.
Response #2: It’s something I’m proud about – not to an obscene level, but I am proud of my brains just as much as I am proud of my good singing voice. It’s no better or worse than other people are proud of their good looks or ability to play sports well (neither of which I can claim).
Response #3: We have a right to be proud of whatever it is we are good at doing – be it something physical, mental, whatever. There is nothing wrong with that.
Response #4: It just sucks because saying you’re proud of doing a sport is cool but once you bring up intelligence you’re immediately seen has being condescending
Response #5: Perhaps – but that’s their problem. Someone feeling that I am condescending by mentioning I am proud and happy to be a Mensan makes me sad. I don’t feel it’s condescending when someone tells me they are a great dancer just because I have two left feet and dance like a drunken hippo.
Response #6: The question was – is Mensa Membership something to be proud about. And I think someone can be as proud of their innate intelligence as someone can be about any other innate ability. Sure – not every Mensa member lives up to their complete potential. I know I don’t. But I think that being smart enough to qualify is something that I can be proud about.
Response #7: I disagree that qualifying for Mensa is innate. If Usain Bolt never left his couch and ate Big Macs nine times a day, his potential would be the same but his actual time in the 100 meters would be sometime next Tuesday. Standardized tests show a significant training effect and a love of reading and learning is a common trait among our cohort. So, yes, most of us worked to get this smart, and could be proud of it. However, it is often more politic not to be too loud about our memberships because no one likes a smarty pants.
Response #8: I remember that my best test was my GREs, where I scored 2200+. I showed my scores to all my profs, and the first words out of my chemistry professor was, “I didn’t think you were that smart.”
Response #9 (my personal favorite): People will judge you negatively for being intelligent.
Mostly, I think, because they feel threatened.
Because intelligence is not immediately obvious–the way other characteristics can be.
Virtually no one will feel bad about not being a professional athlete. So they can laud that ability in others without feeling personally inferior.
No one, in my experience, thinks they aren’t smart. Until the person they least expect turns out to be demonstrably more intelligent than they are. They don’t expect it, and thus feel threatened. So, to mitigate that feeling, they react negatively.
You should be proud of your intelligence. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves because they’re a few standard deviations above normal.
So, let me ask a question. Should it be considered bad form to mention your membership in an high IQ society?
If you’re currently employed and happy in your job, how do you think your boss would react to finding out you were a Mensan? Do you think that could be a roadblock to your advancing within the company? Would your boss and fellow co-workers likely feel threatened?