It's often claimed that the reason that there are many more men than women in certain academic disciplines (mathematics is one, but that's not the point of this post) is not that men and women have different mean abilities, but rather that the standard deviation of male ability is larger than the standard deviation of female ability. (Of course, it is unwise to espouse these views publicly, for political reasons; that's what got Larry Summers in a lot of trouble.)
It occurs to me, having watched lots of the Olympics in the last few days, that something similar might be true in athletic events. I'm not claiming that men and women are physically identical (I'm not blind), or that their average performance in physical feats is the same. But it may be the case that the difference between the very best men and the very best women in physical feats (say, times in some sort of race, because these are the most easily quantified) is larger than the difference between the average man and the average woman, because there could be more variance among men than women.
Is there any evidence for this? I'm obviously not a student of this sort of thing (in fact, I don't even know what "this sort of thing" is called, although it's clearly some subfield of biology or medicine).
Oh, and Jordan Ellenberg wrote an explanation of why the new gymnastics scoring system is good. I'm glad he did, because I'd had a feeling it was better than the old system but was having trouble articulating why.