More women key to smarter teams

The research undertaken by team from Carnegie Mellon University and MIT Sloan School of Management gave people aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks – including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles – and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance.

Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did. The researchers replicated the study and got the same result. Anita Woolley, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, says they were surprised but intrigued to find that group intelligence had relatively little to do with individual intelligence. Important factors like group satisfaction, cohesion and motivation influenced team performance

Professor Thomas Malone, founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, says it’s preliminary finding, but not conventional one. “The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in group. But so far, the data show, the more women, the better.”

• For more information and an interview with the researchers visit hbr.org/2011/

 

 

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