Gender-Heterogeneous Working Groups Produce Higher Quality Science is a research article explored by a group of scientist Lesley Campbell, Siya Mehtani, Mary Dozier and Janice Rinehart and published by PLOS ONE an open access peer revied journal that is published by the Public Library of Science. In the article they bring into the forefront the question of team composition in terms of gender conformation and the effect that it has on team performance.They present the first empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that a gender-heterogeneous problem solving team generally produces journal articles that are perceived to be of a higher quality by peers than a team composed of highly performing individuals of the same gender.
The main point of the study is that promoting diversity in team composition in research studies not only promotes representation but in most cases results to higher quality science.The authors pose theproblem, “Equal-opportunity hiring practices have been implemented repeatedly to promote fairness and represent human diversity, but could they also lead to the production of higher quality work?” (Campbell, Mehtani, Dozier & Rinehart, 2013, p. 1).
The authorscontend that gender diverse teams have the tendency to collaborate more effectively and therefore, exhibit higher collective intelligenceand this effect is primarily explained by benefits to group processes such as better morale, different interpersonal styles which promote greater social sensitivity and conversational turn-taking.The article posits that diversity founded on gendermounts the likelihood that a team is going to producegood science (2013, p. 2). They add that gender diverse teams and teams that are discrete in a multiplicity of ways might essentially find new and more effective approaches to do team science and teamwork(2013, p. 4).Applied more broadly, the team’s results reinforce the concept that distinct teams, be it cultural, ethnic or gender diversity present better performance in the lab, business world, and social settings and beyond.
The authors employed a case study approach in the research. Case studies predominantly entail adetailedand in-depth study of a particular case mostly an individual or group of individuals. Various methods of data collection and analysis are used including consulting other people and personal or public records(Bhujanga, 2008, pp. 33-34).Working with a consistent data sample, the research study focused on previous research produced between 1997 and 2006by 157 research working groups from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a leading publishing ecological institution based in California. The team then evaluated the success of each paper based on the number of citations the work received from peers.
Most of the findings are consistent with what the society considers as the ideal practices when forming a team. A team should be diverse in every possible way to allow for diverse opinions, way of thinking and approaches to doing a particular task. To this extent I agree with the findings of this study, but to the extent that the study finds that gender as a form of diversity go towards influencing team performance I do not agree.Studies previously conducted have revealed that there exists no correlation or a negative correlation exists between gender diversity and team performance. The weight of team diversity is predominantly pegged on factors such as team demography and task difficulty among other influences. Additionally, in teams where women have been perceived to have moreexpertise than other team members, the productivity and performance of the team would likely be negatively affected.
Lafasto and Larson in their book presented a tour de force of what makes teams and groups successful. The book provided a solid practical advice and tools for improving the effectiveness of teams(2001, pp. 33-61),offering a guide on how to harness the power of cooperation and teamwork for increased productivity and effectiveness(2001, pp. 1-28). The ideas put forward in the article are consistent with the ideas presented in the text. The article postulates that the composition of members in a team is an important influence and determinant of the overall performance of the team. The article affirms that diversity and distinctiveness in the composition of a team go towards strengthening and improving the productivity of a team.
Bhujanga, A. R. (2008). Research Methodology for Management and Social Sciences. New Delhi: Excel Books India.
Campbell , L. G., Mehtani, S., Dozier, M. E., & Rinehart , J. (October 30, 2013). Gender-Heterogeneous Working Groups Produce Higher Quality Science. PLOS ONE, 8(10), 1-6. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1371/journal.pone.0079147
LaFasto, F. M., & Larson, C. (August 2001). When Teams Work Best: 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What it Takes to Succeed (1 ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
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