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The Best Teams Have Women on Them


Working in groups is part of everyday life, both personally and professionally. For instance, a family must work as a unit to maintain an orderly household, and, likewise, professionals must utilize teamwork to accomplish company goals. So, what makes a group successful? One study found the secret ingredient: the more women, the better.

women in the workplace

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

Two studies conducted by professors at Carnegie Mellon, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Union College evaluated 699 participants who worked in groups of two to five and were asked to solve tasks involving logical analysis, brainstorming, emphasized coordination, planning, and moral reasoning. One interesting finding was that group intelligence had very little to do with individual intelligence (IQ). Apparently, when it comes to a group’s overall success, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

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The studies concluded something even more interesting and profound — groups with more women participants performed better overall. Why is that, you ask? According to the authors, “studies have shown that women tend to score higher on tests of social sensitivity than men do” and social sensitivity was found to have a significantly positive impact on overall group performance. To put it in layman’s terms, women proved to be better at “mind-reading” than men.

Women are definitely contributing factors to a group’s collective intelligence, but there are also other influencers that make for a stellar team. According to the studies, these are the five key factors:

1. The group listened to each other, rather than letting one person dominate.

2. The group shared constructive criticism with the other members.

3. They group was more open-minded.

4. The group was not autocratic.

5. There was a nice balance of cognitive diversity for effectiveness.

As mentioned earlier, working in groups is an essential part of life in and out of the workplace. Therefore, understanding how to better construct teams is a beneficial trait to possess in life. The next time you’re forming a group or participating in a group, utilize the five takeaways listed above to ensure that your team’s efforts are a success and not a waste of everyone’s time … and remember, ladies first.

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Do you think that gender matters when it comes to team building? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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