How important is group diversity? If a group is NOT diverse, should we discount the group outcomes? How serious are we as educators about promoting diversity, and why?
Adding to this discussion (this one happens to be about gender diversity only) is a study on the impact of gender diversity to group performance published in Science. Cutting to the results, three factors were significantly correlated with group performance.
- First, there was a significant correlation between group performance and the average social sensitivity of group members.
- Second, group performance was negatively correlated with the variance in the number of speaking turns by group members. In other words, groups where a few people dominated the conversation were less collectively intelligent than those with a more equal distribution of conversational turn-taking.
- Finally, group performance was positively and significantly correlated with the proportion of females in the group because (consistent with previous research) women in the research sample scored better on the social sensitivity measure than men.
It’s always easy to say that diversity matters, but what if any team composed largely of men is essentially the “B squad” as soon as they (we) enter the room together? Does that not force a more profound discussion? Does it not demand that we re-think who is in the room before we even start? And what does it mean for single gender male schools where the adults (let alone the students) are almost all-male?