Sales is typically thought of as a mans world. Harvard Business Review recently published the results of a research project that indicates that women really do make a difference. It was developed by Anita Woolley (firstname.lastname@example.org), assistant professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University and Thomas Malone (email@example.com), the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
The finding: There’s little correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.
The research: Professors Woolley and Malone, along with Christopher Chabris, Sandy Pentland, and Nada Hashmi, gave subjects 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.
Here are the highlights of this research. To read the full article go to "Defend Your Research: What Makes A Team Smarter? More Women."
- Things like group satisfaction, group cohesion, group motivation—none were correlated with collective intelligence. They were surprised but intrigued to find that group intelligence had relatively little to do with individual intelligence.
- The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group. But so far, the data show, the more women, the better.
- Many studies have shown that women tend to score higher on tests of social sensitivity than men do. So what is really important is to have people who are high in social sensitivity, whether they are men or women. What you hear about great groups is not that the members are all really smart but rather they listen to each other. They share criticism constructively. They have open minds. They’re not autocratic. And in our study we saw pretty clearly that groups that had smart people dominating the conversation were not very intelligent groups.
- We think it’s completely possible to markedly change a group’s intelligence. You could increase it by changing members or incentives for collaboration, for instance.
- As face-to-face groups get bigger, they’re less able to take advantage of their members. That suggests size could diminish group intelligence. But we suspect that technology may allow a group to get smarter.
Here are a couple related articles on the power of women in sales!