Get More Great Stuff!

Join over 45,000 subscribers! Get a free weekly update with exclusive content.
No spam, ever. Enter your email here:

How does gender affect teamwork at the office?

Teams with men and women performed better:

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affect their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, where each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBAs. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by any other gender combination, both at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Looking across the performance distribution, we find that for undergraduates, three women teams are outperformed throughout, but by as much as 10pp at the bottom and by only 1pp at the top. For MBAs, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision-making. We observe that three women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.

Source: “The impact of gender composition on team performance and decision-making: Evidence from the field” from Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1225

That paper only seems to attack the issue in a very limited context but it adds to research I’ve posted before regarding women’s (on average) greater social skills improving work teams:

A new study published in Science found that three factors were significantly correlated with a group’s collective intelligence — in other words, its ability to perform a variety of tasks collectively, from solving puzzles to negotiating. 

The three factors are: the average social sensitivity of the members of the group, the extent to which the group’s conversations weren’t dominated by a few members, and the percentage of women in the group.  (The women in the study tended to score higher on social sensitivity than the men.) In other words, groups perform better on tasks if the members have strong social skills, if there are some women in the group, and if the conversation reflects more group members’ ideas. The groups studied were small teams with two to five members.

Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

About Eric Barker