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Does Gender Play a Role in Collective Team Intelligence?

Question asked by Samina Azad on Aug 14, 2011
Latest reply on Aug 19, 2011 by Samina Azad

Studies show that teams that have more women are more intelligent! Can you believe it? HBR published this new finding in the June 2011 issue. The title of the article is “What Makes a Team Smarter? More Women”

Professors Woolley (of Carnegie Mellon) and Malone (of MIT) along with others conducted a research where they gave subjects aged 18 to 60 individual IQ tests and then randomly assigned them to groups. Then they tested the collective IQ of each group through tasks like brainstorming, decision making and visual puzzles in order to solve one complex problem. It turned out that the collective intelligence was not an average of all the individual IQs in a group but the groups that had more women earned much higher scores.


How do they explain the results? This happened because women usually score higher than men in tests of social sensitivity. The professors’ preliminary conclusion is that it is important to have team members who are high in social sensitivity to make a team more intelligent. In all great groups, members listen to each other, can take criticism constructively and have open minds. It is therefore possible to design a successful team with high collective IQ. It would be interesting to know if the collective IQ is always directly proportional to team performance and productivity.


Cheers to HBR for publishing this article!