According to a new study, the more women that your workplace has, the better your whole team will perform.
What makes a women-dominated workforce much more capable? was more important than women make groups work better because they are better at gauging how to navigate the social interactions between members of the group.
The research points out that women exhibit higher levels of “social sensitivity.” This quality turns out to be more valuable than just having smart people on a team, or if the team works well together. The most highly performing groups in the study all had women in them who were able to tell what the other people on the team were thinking by using those feminine traits like intuition, care, and sensitivity.
Basically, what these findings mean is that the very traits that many men have claimed hold women back in the workplace are actually the things that make women more indispensable for a company.
This level of awareness is so powerful that women team members are able to know what other people on the team were thinking. In short, these female dominated teams achieved an almost psychic level of cohesion that allowed them to produce more impressive results than any of the other teams in the study. The researchers call this phenomenon a “collective intelligence” and they stressed that it was more important than how smart the individual members of the team actually were.
The study, performed by scientists at MIT and published in Science, included almost seven hundred people who worked in separate groups of up to five people each. The teams with the most women were the most productive, even outperforming teams that had gender parity.
So how can women take advantage of this situation? There are two big takeaways. One is making sure to build teams of women. If you are in a leadership position at work one of the easiest ways to assure that you get good results from the team you are working with is to make sure that it is dominated by women. Not just one woman, not half women, but mostly women. And for even more focused results, if you have a task at work that requires a careful attention to how people react to one another, give that job to a female team.
The other takeaway is that women should take advantage of their heightened social sensitivity for years. Not surprisingly, they have been. Some fields that have traditionally been dominated by women—jobs like human resources, healthcare, customer service, education, and child care—just happen to require more attentiveness to the feelings of others. That doesn’t mean women should stay put in those fields. Finding a way to apply this specifically feminine power of group awareness at work is a problem that all women in non-traditional job roles face day in and day out. If we put our heads together we should be able to figure something out.