I have recently heard that the only 5% percent out of entire chess players are women. I find this suspicious. Who says that only men can play chess? Is this statistic true, and if it is, why?
I don't know that it's 95%, but it's close.
Why aren't there more female players? Probably a combination of things certainly including cultural gender bias. Women can surely play the game but American culture doesn't seem to reward them for it.
In about 1990, my B-player rating would have put me in the top 50 women players in the country. A little later, the US got a lot of immigration from ex-Soviet Bloc countries. This included a very good number of strong female players. I can only surmise that their cultures were more supportive of the women.
Further, I feel the game was invented as a war game by men for men and as such probably has a certain character that is best appreciated by men.
Compare to Go, a game of remarkable complexity, which has a much higher level of female participation.
Chess tends to impersonate war. No one says women can't fight, but it's usually considered more of a men's activity¹, don't you think ?
I'm very curious about the “why” aspect, but that probably calls for much socio-psychology I'm not near knowledgeable enough at, and probably isn't even well known yet².
For real statistics, I guess scripting over a FIDE ratings database wouldn't be too hard, probably even mentionned in the introductory section of Women in Chess³.
¹ And since humanity invented weaponry, physical strength is not much more of an advantage at IRL war than OTB, so I wouldn't call that a reason.
Despite all feminist claims, it's not cultural, but biological. In countries where supposedly the culture is more supportive for equality in activities (like USSR), males are by far relatively predominant in chess, the same as in US. It's the same with careers. It hasn't made much of a difference now that engineering, for instance, has been a field accessible to women for a long time. Most of them simply prefer social activities more. As Desmond Morris says, the brains of men and women work differently from each other. This doesn't imply any inferiority, simply there are activities more suited for men and activities more suited for women. E.g. dyslexia is almost wholly an issue for men, not for women.