Q: What makes a team smarter? A: One woman or more

Linking to Keith Wilson’s recent post about CMS UK signing up to the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter, I learnt on a webinar yesterday that the number of women in a team increases the team’s collective intelligence proportionally over men-only teams.
Checking the research behind this, I found that collective intelligence is strongly correlated with the average “social sensitivity” of group members, how equally group members join in the conversation, and the proportion of women in the group. It is surprisingly not so robustly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members.
Collective intelligence was found to predict how well a group performed on a wide variety of tasks. Particularly relevant to these times, a study of online groups found the same factors of social perceptiveness and the proportion of women to be equally applicable to the collective intelligence of remotely operating teams.
My experience of coaching teams has shown that social sensitivity is key to successful performance.
Anita Williams Woolley, with collaborators, wrote all the articles I read on this topic. Here she is with Thomas Malone, talking in HBR about their 2010 research.
Thanks to the Neuroleadership Institute for germinating my interest in this topic through its webinar.

Janet Hayes

Further research

Original research cited: 2010

Research about online groups: 2015

Further summary of the research: Science Daily