Women are often stereotyped. They might be considered to be smarter than their male counterparts or they could be thought of as the weaker gender in every area. It is said that intelligent women intimidate men. For this reason, women will often play dumb to get their attention because they don’t want to be seen as intimidating. Sally M. Reis, Ph.D. found that “gifted girls do not want to be considered different from their friends and same-age peers. Indeed, a tendency exists for many females, regardless of age, to try to minimize their differences.”
A few celebrity women have broken out of the box and have accepted their intelligence without flaunting it obnoxiously. We’ve judged them based on their reported IQ and have listed them here for you to admire because intelligence is something to praise, not be ashamed of. Keep in mind that IQ is used to measure your overall intelligence and anything from 90 and 110 is considered average. If you score over 120, you are superb. About 68% of the population has an IQ between 85 and 115, while about 95% of the population scores between 70 and 130.
Only 1% of the population has an IQ of 136 or higher and many of that small percentage are women. No wonder they are so successful! Before we start comparing the size of our own IQ, let’s focus on these extremely intelligent women who give us something to admire and aspire to achieve.
21 Emma Watson – Reported IQ: 138
At first, Emma Watson hated the fact that Hermione was admired for her brains saying, “When I was 9 or 10, I would get really upset when they tried to make me look geeky but now I absolutely love it. I find it’s so much pressure to be beautiful. Hermione doesn’t care what she looks like. She’s a complete tomboy.”
She realized that Hermione is a lot like her, particularly her intelligence. She started pursuing this early on and in 2006, she took GCSE (secondary education in England) school examinations in ten subjects, achieving straight As. She graduated after studying history at English Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. During her time there, she also took majored in yoga and meditation and wasn’t allowed to speak for an extended period of time. All in all, Emma Watson is known as one of the most intelligent women in Hollywood.
20 Natalie Portman – Reported IQ: 140
Natalie Portman is one of the classiest women the world has ever seen. She once authored two research papers that were published in scientific journals with details that would be much too advanced for our feeble minds. Not only could she have turned down Harvard but she was actually accepted into Harvard University with an A.B. in Psychology in 2003! In her free time, she even learned to read and speak English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, German and Japanese fluently. After college, she took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
She claims that when she was young she was "different from the other kids. I was more ambitious. I knew what I liked and what I wanted, and I worked very hard. I was a very serious kid." After becoming a successful actress, she put her education above everything else: “I'm going to college. I don't care if it ruins my career. I'd rather be smart than a movie star."
19 Mayim Bialik – Reported IQ: 150+
Mayim Bialik plays a neurobiologist on The Big Bang Theory and in real life has her Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. She is very similar to the character that she plays on television and she’s proud of that fact. She became famous after her role in Blossom. After which, she was accepted into Harvard and Yale. Shockingly, she turned them both down to stay closer to home. She first got her B.S. and then went back to school for her doctorate, with her dissertation being an investigation of hypothalamic activity in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome. Again, another actress whose intelligence we can’t even begin to understand.
Mayim is a big believer in women’s rights and often speaks out against men who treat her like an object. She enjoys using the fact that she has a Ph.D. against people who ask her what it would feel like if she were as smart as her character. Turns out, she is!
18 Danica McKellar – Reported IQ: 154
Winnie Cooper was adorable on The Wonder Years but did you know she’s actually an accomplished mathematician? It’s true, math has always been Danica McKellar's favorite subject and she excelled at it early on.
As a teen, she studied math at UCLA and graduated with honors in 1998 but not before co-authoring a scientific paper. A paper that established a new mathematics theorem, dubbed the “Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem.” Yeah, she is one of those “I created my own mathematical theory” people. She’s written multiple children’s books and a few successful books about math such as Do Not Open This Math Book: Addition + Subtraction. To think the actress would take time out of her life to help kids and teens with math is incredible! With a mind like hers, it really wasn’t any trouble. Watching her on Hallmark movies is going to be so much better knowing all of this!
17 Kate Beckinsale – Reported IQ: 152
This actress made her film debut in Much Ado About Nothing while still a student at the University of Oxford. Kate Beckinsale was singled out for her intelligence in grade school, with her reports saying that she was a sixth-grade level when she was in the first grade. This was primarily her reading level, which means she had a great comprehension of language. This led Beckinsale to study French and Russian literature at Oxford University's New College. She still fluently speaks both French and Russian, as well as German.
She won the British bookseller W.H. Smith Young Writers' competition twice. Once was for three short stories and once for three poems. Both awards came while she still was in her teens! Now we’re all just waiting for the movie star to show us how to write a screenplay! She would surely smash it, considering she’s such a talented writer.
16 Allison Williams – Reported IQ: 130
When you grow up under the roof of a newscaster, your life is no doubt going to be different. Girls actress, Allison Williams wasn't allowed to act professionally until she graduated from college. But this wasn’t a community college. Allison studied English and archaeology at Yale. Pretty deep (pun intended), if you ask us.
"I operate with this sense of needing to live up to what I am asking of people," she revealed. "I am, by far, my own worst critic. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. Between homework and sports and drama and being social, I slept about four hours a night through high school and college. I often remind myself that I was busier then than I am now." Along with being a hard worker, she also has the dignity and intelligence to know that just because she’s in a show like Girls, doesn’t mean she has to go all the way.
15 Eva Longoria – Reported IQ: At Least 120
Eva Longoria is best known for her role as the former model, Gabrielle Solis, in the hit TV show Desperate Housewives. What’s strange is that everyone expects her to be like her character on the show when in reality, she is the complete opposite:
“Some people are so surprised by how articulate or smart I am. But others are like, ‘Oh, I forgot you’re an actress too,’ because of all my philanthropy,” she said. “I take great responsibility in [being a role model]. I think it’s really important people have somebody to look up to and emulate. I want to see change in the world and I can represent that.”
Not so long ago, Eva earned her master’s degree in Chicano Studies from Cal State Northridge University. Before that, she got her Bachelor's in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Her striking thesis was titled, "Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers."
14 Maggie Gyllenhaal – Reported IQ: Likely 135
When Maggie Gyllenhaal returned to her alma mater to accept a personal achievement award, she said her Columbia education taught her to "acknowledge that I really know nothing." It is reported that “a thirst for knowledge led her, as a first-year English student, to sneak into the dean's senior seminar. The smarts run in the family, because her brother Jake also went to the same college but dropped out before graduating.
Maggie’s entire family is gifted. The Gyllenhaal name has been around for centuries and reports say that their line is special. The most famous of them is Leonard Gyllenhaal (1752–1840). In the 1800s, he was created a Knight of the Royal Order of Vasa for his scientific work as an entomologist, including his monograph on Swedish insects, Insecta Suecia descripta. Talk about running in the family!
13 Mindy Kaling – Reported IQ: Likely 140
Mindy Kaling went to Dartmouth College, where she was a theater major who earned an Eleanor Frost Playwriting Award in 1999. While in school, she illustrated a daily comic for the school paper called "Badly Drawn Girl," which "riffed on day-to-day campus life and took a witty stab at everything from fraternity life to alumni."
Though she has written two books, her most successful work has been her television show, The Mindy Project, which she created and stars in. But that doesn’t mean her books aren’t exceptional. In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, “Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a girl next door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”
12 Cindy Crawford – Reported IQ: 154
Cindy Crawford is much more than a supermodel. She is a woman who graduated as the valedictorian of her high school class and signed her first modeling contract in 1984. It wasn’t all for fun because the money she earned from modeling was used to supplement her scholarship to attend Northwestern University. However, she ended up turning the college down as she soon became far too successful to give up on modeling, even though she had earned an academic scholarship to study chemical engineering!
It looks like her decision paid off because she became one of the original "Big Six" supermodels. She now uses her money for charity work and donates the proceeds of her calendars to medical research. When she was ten, her 3-year-old brother died of leukemia, which impacted her greatly. To honor her brother Jeff, she became an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
11 Elizabeth Banks – Reported IQ: Estimated at 145
Long before she was an Emmy-nominated actress and Hollywood star, Elizabeth Banks studied communications and theater arts at the University of Pennsylvania. In actuality, her name is Elizabeth Mitchell but to avoid confusion with Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost, she changed it to Banks. After graduating magna cum laude (with great distinction), she went on to earn her master's at the American Conservatory Theater. Now she is known for Hunger Games and her role as Avery Jessup on the NBC sitcom, 30 Rock, which earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations!
She now is a director who is working on Charlies’ Angels and did a wonderful job with Pitch Perfect 2. She already has an impressive 15 credits to her name! Next time you watch Hunger Games, take a look at Effie and tell us if you can spot the intelligence hidden in that Lady Gaga-esque hair.
10 Kesha – Reported IQ: 140
This one comes as a shocker but it’s true! Kesha is known for her music and party girl ways but she was actually extremely "studious" growing up. She stated, "I was in the international baccalaureate program, I loved physics and math, and I was in the marching band. After practice, I would drive to Belmont [a college in Nashville] and listen to Cold War history classes; I just think it's so interesting."
She was going to attend Barnard College to study psychology and comparative religion until her producer, Dr. Luke, convinced her to pursue her music career. She even reportedly scored a 1500 on her SAT scores, which is a near perfect score. This is almost as high as Bill Gates, who scored 1590. Most of our U.S. presidents didn’t even get 1100, making her more intelligent than some of the leaders of the United States of America. SAT scores aren’t everything but with a score like hers, they sure do mean a lot!
9 Sharon Stone – Reported IQ: 158
Keep in mind that Albert Einstein’s IQ was 160 and Sharon Stone is just on the edge of that level of intelligence. Many say that she needs to join Mensa, considering she was in 2nd grade at the age of five. At 15, she studied at Saegertown High School in Pennsylvania and, at that same age, entered Edinboro State University of Pennsylvania. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and fine arts.
Her peers and authority figures told her to become a lawyer or something that used her brains but her first love was still the black-and-white movies, especially those featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Right after school, she decided to pursue a career in acting. Soon enough, she was winning people over in hit films like Basic Instinct, Casino, and The Quick and the Dead.
8 Nicole Kidman – Reported IQ: 132
Nicole Kidman is often associated with intelligence but has it ever occurred to you why? Her father was Antony Kidman, a biochemist, a clinical psychologist, and an author. Her mother, Janelle Ann, was a nursing instructor who edited her husband's books and was a member of the Women's Electoral Lobby. With so much worthiness in the family, of course, she’s going to grab a few of those genes, which has been proven by those incredibly above average IQ scores.
At the time of Kidman's birth, her father was a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He became a visiting fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health of the United States. Nicole initially studied at the Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney. She’s now a great philanthropist who, along with her husband Keith Urban, is constantly fighting causes she believes in with passion and determination.
7 Lupita Nyong'o – Reported IQ: Higher Than Yours
The Academy Award-winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o, originally wanted to go into filmmaking. She applied to Hampshire College and moved to the United States to earn her degree. She was born in Mexico City and raised in Kenya but now pursues a career in acting.
"I wanted to be an actor but I wasn't ready to admit it yet," she stated. "So my plan B was filmmaking and that felt more acceptable [than acting] for people in my community."
After making her decision, she attended a three-year master's program at the Yale School of Drama, where she landed her Oscar-winning role just a couple of weeks before graduation. While at the university, she was awarded the Herschel Williams Prize for "acting students with outstanding ability" during the 2011-2012 academic year. Though her talent showed in the Star Wars movies, her role as Nakia in the superhero film Black Panther is superb.
6 Jodie Foster – Reported IQ: 134
It doesn’t seem that a “12-year-old prostitute” would be that clever but Jodie Foster (Iris in Taxi Driver) is known for her intelligence. Jodie Foster was speaking by the age of 9 months, could read on her own before she was three, and was acting by the time she was in kindergarten. All the while, making it at Lycée Français de Los Angeles. After graduating, she attended Yale to study literature but went back to acting after graduation (which she did with honors).
Though her talent lies in acting, her directing got her honored with the Cecil B. Demille honorary Golden Globe in January 2013 for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." The Doctor of Fine Arts is much more than we give her credit for and she can tell you so in about two and a half languages. I guess bilingual schools are good for something!
5 Tatyana Ali – Reported IQ: Undisclosed
Little did we know that little Tatyana Ali from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be going to attend an Ivy League college after her run on the show. “Ashley” went to Harvard University and graduated with a degree in Afro-American history and government in 2002.
However, she noticed something that not many do saying, “there’s actually a pretty substantial population of students of color,” she says. “There are signature black events at Harvard like Apollo Night, for example, and it’s time for performance and it’s really integrated. It’s Apollo Night, black students are throwing it, but everybody comes and everybody performs.”
It would appear that the entire cast of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was gifted because it’s rumored that Will Smith had a perfect score on his SATs and is also known for his intelligent work although, Ashley still steals the show this time!
4 Jordana Brewster – Reported IQ: 125
Known across the world as Mia Toretto, Dom’s sister, Jordana Brewster is a force to be reckoned with. While her IQ might not be a Einstein level like some of the others, her accomplishments are great. After the success of "The Fast and the Furious," she left Hollywood to study English at Yale. This was tough for her as she was both a famous actress and granddaughter of the Yale President Kingman Brewster.
The class of '04 grad said she was a nerd in college. "I was so stressed about getting good grades," she admitted. "I wish I had joined a sorority and had more fun." As it turns out, she was a tryhard who couldn’t let loose. She wouldn’t attend parties and did everything she could to make the best grades that she could…and that she did. She’s now back on the big screen with Lethal Weapon and Secrets and Lies.
3 Lisa Kudrow – Reported IQ: 154
What is it with these TV ditzy blondes and their intelligence? Lisa Kudrow graduated from Vassar College with a degree in biology and began working with her father, a world-renowned headache specialist, on a study concerning hemispheric dominance and headache types.
Six months after graduating, she halted her education in order to pursue her acting career. Now, we all know her as Phoebe from Friends and are forever grateful she chose this career, even though she could have gone further in college. In the words of Phoebe, “I might play the fool at times, but I’m more than a pretty blonde with a [booty] that won’t quit.”
2 Kara Hayward – Reported IQ: Mensa Level
Kara Hayward starred in the 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom, which earned her a 2013 Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actress. After all, the movie was a showstopper. Kara currently lives outside Boston with her family and has been a member of Mensa since she was 9-years-old!
For those unaware, Mensa is the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world. The society is open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test. The minimum accepted score on the Stanford–Binet is 132, while it is 148 for the Cattell. This means that Kara’s IQ is at least 132 but likely higher. She claims that she has never tested herself!
1 Geena Davis – Reported IQ: 140
Another Mensa member is Geena Davis, whom we have all applauded for roles in films like Beetlejuice and A League of Their Own. At an early age, she became interested in music. She learned to play the piano, flute, and organ regularly. As if high school wasn’t hard enough, she attended school in Sweden at Wareham High School as an exchange student, forcing her to become fluent in Swedish. Enrolling at New England College, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in drama from Boston University in 1979.
Her steps towards betterment didn’t end there. In 2005, she teamed up with the non-profit group, Dads and Daughters, to launch a venture dedicated to balancing the number of male and female characters in children's television and movie programming. Two years later, Davis launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007. Because of this, she received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bates College in May 2009.
Sources: people.com, mtv.be, telegraph.co.uk, bet.com, townandcountrymag.com