In Issue 2/2022


Sport competitions are almost always separated by sex, because there are obvious differences between men and women in their physical strength and abilities. However, when it comes to touch typing[1], we see that the classification lists in world championships are not separated (Intersteno, 2022). At first glance at the classification lists, one can argue that men are better typists than women. To see if and why men are better at typing than women, we need to see if there are any previous experiences and predispositions that affect typing success.

In this article, I will show the differences between men’s and women’s typing skills based on research about predisposition and previous experience.

Results of men and women in touch-typing world championships

The results of touch-typing world championships are shown in table 1, along with a comparison between the men and women in the top five and 10 places. In the seniors category, the last 15 years on a regular keyboard were taken into consideration. There are approximately the same number of men and women competing.

2007 – Prague
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4 5
Female Male First five places by sex
1 9 M M M M M
2009 – Beijing
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
2 8 M F M M M
2011 – Paris
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
3 7 M F M M M
2013 – Ghent
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
2 8 M M M M M
2015 – Budapest
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
1 9 M M M M M
2017 – Berlin
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
2 8 M M M F M
2019 – Cagliari
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
3 7 M M F M F
2022 – Maastricht
First 10 places (number) 1 2 3 4. 5.
Female Male First five places by sex
3 7 M M M M M

Table 1. Text production results in the World Championships (regular keyboard)

It is interesting to note that, since 2005, no woman has won first place in the text production competition in the seniors category. Furthermore, there are considerably more male competitors in the top 10. Since 2005, 70% to 90 % of the competitors in the top 10 were male and only 10% to 30 % were female.  Moreover, four times since 2005—in 2007, 2013, 2015 and 2022—not a single woman has got into the top five.

We can conclude that men achieve better results in typing competitions than women. The question is why. Is it because of physical differences or because of other experiences or habits that are more typical for men than forwomen?

Research about previous experiences and predisposition to success in typing

What does one need to become a good typist? Is it about physical predisposition, high IQ, music skills, motivation or daily usage of acomputer? All those questions are important to answer to see whether some predispositions and previous experiences are important for typing speed.

Research was conducted in 10 high schools in Croatia, where students learn touch typing for four hours per week in their first year of high school. The research was conducted in the school year 2021 to2022 in three phases. In every phase, students and teachers answered a questionnaire and typed for 10 minutes on an online platform The first phase was at the beginning of school year before the students started to learn touch typing and were typing with only a couple of fingers. Then they had a second phase in February-March when they learned the optimal technique for typingall Croatian letters. The last phase was at the end of the school year in June.

Two hundred and fourteen females and 34 males answered the first questionnaire. In all three phases, 28 male and 111 female students participated in the typing part. So 20.1 % of men and 79.9 % of women participated in all three phases.

Here you can see the classification list and their results in all three phases.

Table 2. Classification list of students whoparticipated in the research

We can see that there are no women in the first three places. They learned to type at the same time and had the same amount of time to practise their skills. We can also see that differences in typing speed between men and women start as early as in adolescence.  

In the first phase where students were typing with just a couple of fingers there were five male and five female students in the first 10 places. In the second phase, more men made the top 10. At the end of the school year, 21.4% of men who participated in research were in the top 10 places and only 3.6% of women who participated in the research were in top 10 places. An important fact is that there were no female students in the first three places in all phases (see table 3).

1ST PHASE553/0
2ND PHASE733/0
3RD PHASE6 (21.4 %)4 (3.6 %)3/0
Table 3. Number of male and female students in the first 10 places in all three phases

Among the students in the top 10, just one female plays the piano, but no male student plays an instrument. This means that playing an instrument is not relevant for typing speed. Six of the top students play video games (two females and four males). However, this is also not relevant since majority of students that are not in top 10 also plays and their results are low. Only one male student in the top 10 plays sports. The students’ points for applying to high school were average, which means that school results and motivation are not relevant for typing speed either. Time spent on the computer is also not relevant, since it varies from less than every day to more than five hours per day and it changes through phases (according due to a student’s school duties) and many students who did not have such good results also spend a lot of time in front of the computer. So the results of the questionnaire for students’ previous experiences and predispositions show that there is not one significant variable explaining why somebody is a better typist than another.

So why is there such a difference in typing speed between men and women? The answer is easy. I propose, based on earlier research, that the differences are based on physical differences.

A gender difference in the strength of elbow flexors is due partially to differences in electromechanical response times (Bell & Jacobs, 1986). These response times refer to the delay between the arrival of a stimulus to a research participant, for example a visual stimulus upon which the participant is expected to flex a certain muscle, and the resultant change in the electromyography reading; and the delay between the change in the electromyography reading and the actual development of force. The latter delay has been named the electromechanical delay (EMD). In a study by Bell and Jacobs (ibid.) on 46 males and 40 females, males had shorter EMD times. Bell and Jacobs postulated that it was due to inherent differences in the series elastic component within the muscle tissue. This in turn would have influenced the rate of force generation. It was possible that the EMD related to lateral force generation and therefore could help to explain not only longer times to generate force, but total force produced (Clerke, 2006).

We can relate this to the competitor receiving the visual stimulus from the paper on the text production competition upon which the competitor is expected to type the text.


The result of this research is that there is no significant connection between previous experience and success in typing. The only difference between the huge majority of males among the best 10 typists and the significant minority of women is their sex. I suggest that the differences are only physical, and that they can be found in differences in electromechanical response time, suggested by prior research. This is why women have fewer chances to win in a competition where classification lists are not separated by sex. It can be argued that, to provide equal chances, there should be separate classification lists in typing competitions. It should be seriously considered in competitive typing, both in world championships and in any other professional competitions.

Andrea Wawrzynek is the president of the Croatian Shorthand Association and a teacher at the Administrative School Zagreb.


Bell, DG, Jacobs, I. (1986). “Electromechanical response times and rate of force development in males and females”, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 18(1):31–36.

Clerke, A. (2006). “Factors influencing grip strength testing in teenagers”, the University of Sydney.

Intersteno 2022 = Official competition classifications in Intersteno World Championships. URL:

[1] Touch typing is a style of typing where location of keys on the keyboard is remembered through muscle memory. It involves placing the eight fingers in a home row“ and having them reach for other keys.

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