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Ryerson prof finds that gender-diverse groups produce better science

Trying to improve gender diversity in organizations started out as a question of equity and justice—it was just the right thing to do. But there's been a growing body of anecdotal evidence that it actually may lead to not just different but better decsion-making. A Ryerson professor, along with some colleagues at Rice University in Houston, decided to research that issue more formally. They've just issued  the results of a study they conducted looking at the impact of gender diversity in the conduct of science, specifically.

The upshot: "Here we present the first empirical evidence," the authors write, "to support the hypothesis that a gender-heterogeneous problem-solving team generally produced journal articles perceived to be higher quality by peers than a team comprised of highly-performing individuals of the same gender."

In short: scientific investigations conducted by gender-diverse teams tend to produce work that is independently assessed to be better than work produced by teams that aren't diverse.

Lesley Campbell is a professor in Ryerson's department of chemistry and biology. "Gender diversity, at a minimum, improves the likelihood that you are going to be doing effective science," she said in a statement explaining her work. "Gender diverse groups and groups that are diverse in a variety of ways might actually be more effective ways to do team science and team work.  We now have scientific evidence to back that suggestion up."

Her study analyzed work produced by 157 research groups from a California-based ecological institution, spanning 1997-2006. Work produced by gender-diverse teams were cited 34 per cent more than homogenous teams; that work was also deemed to be better quality during the peer assessment process.

"We all come to the table with different ways of problem solving," Campbell says. "It’s not just about the facts that we know but the way that we do things really does differ between men and women…There are very different ways that groups with gender diversity complete things."

Writer: Hamutal Dotan
Source: Gender-Heterogeneous Working Groups Produce Higher Quality Science (Study)
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