January 11, 2013

Women make us smarter?

In yet another "that's a bad gender term" debate somewhere, this article popped up: "Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups," Woolley et al, Science 2010. Massacring it to extract its core message:

"However, three factors were significantly correlated with c [Group Intelligence]. First, there was a significant correlation between c and the average social sensitivity of group members.... Second, c 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, c was positively and significantly correlated with the proportion of females in the group (r = 0.23, P = 0.007). However, this result appears to be largely mediated by social sensitivity (Sobel z = 1.93, P = 0.03), because (consistent with previous research) women in our sample scored better on the social sensitivity measure than men [t(441) = 3.42, P = 0.001]. In a regression analysis with the groups for which all three variables (social sensitivity, speaking turn vari- ance, and percent female) were available, all had similar predictive power for c, although only social sensitivity reached statistical significance (b = 0.33, P = 0.05) (12)."

The lobby for women may simply be missing a few marketing tricks. Instead of detecting "differences" and assuming them to be discrimination, there are positive things that can be highlighted.

Maybe it is as simple as coming up with a slogan or aphorism that captures the positive? That article suggests in a very solid and cohesive way that women make groups more intelligent. This is a message that could make even the most hardened geeks and misogynists take pause.

Posted by iang at January 11, 2013 06:17 AM | TrackBack
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