Teams Are Smarter When They Have More Women

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The New York Times set out to find out what makes for a smarter, more well-functioning team. They worked with M.I.T. to group nearly 700 volunteers into teams that had to work together to complete short tasks involving things like brainstorming, logical analysis, and planning.

Who works smartest? Surprisingly, the study found that smarter people do not make for smarter teams. Teams with high-IQ averages didn’t perform any better than lower-IQ average teams did. Nor did teams with extroverts. Instead, the study found three things made for smarter teams:

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not “diversity” (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at “mindreading” than men.

So there you have it. Let everyone talk, pay attention to people’s eyes, and have more women on your team.

Featured image: “Woman leader and her team” from Shutterstock.

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