It is well established that women perform better than men on tests of verbal memory, but the nature of this advantage is unclear. To examine whether reference to a real object is a factor, we presented several verbal memory tasks, including one containing words high and low in concreteness. Over all tests there was an expected female advantage. Although concrete words were recalled much better than abstract words, the female advantage was equivalent on both. The sex difference was not accounted for by a difference in verbal intelligence. Possible brain and adaptive mechanisms are discussed.