Groups – Cooperation – and the number of Women in the Group

According to Science Daily:“When it comes to intelligence, the whole can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts. A new study co-authored by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College researchers documents the existence of collective intelligence among groups of people who cooperate well, showing that such intelligence extends beyond the cognitive abilities of the groups’ individual members and that the tendency to cooperate effectively is linked to the number of women in a group.”

Whether you are a woman or a man – these research findings may get you thinking.  Maybe questions like these below can help you think about yourself and the groups you function in.

  • What does it mean to cooperate well?
  • What ‘gifts’ might women bring to groups to help the groups be more intelligent    than the sum of the intelligence of the collective individuals in a group?
  • How appreciative am I of the contributions of women (other than myself – if I am a woman) to groups I engage with? How might I become more appreciative?
  • Specifically for me, what ‘growth edges’ should I address so that I can improve and further develop my skills, abilities, and dispositions to show-up in groups as  an effective collaborator?
  •  Can I cooperate more honestly and effectively when I am in groups? If your answer is “yes” then the next question might be: specifically how?
  •  Can I cooperate more productively in groups by developing my skills and dispositions as a person who effectively listens for understanding? If your answer is “yes” then the next question might be: specifically how?
  • What information should I be reading, watching or seeking out in general that will         help me to develop as a cooperative team member?
  • Do I have any know behaviors, attitudes or dispositions that keep me from valuing women when they are part of groups I engage in and with?   If your answer is “yes” then the next question might be: what am I going to do address those behaviors, attitudes or dispositions?

My belief is that each of us is a ‘work in progress’. I also believe that when we identify our ‘growth edges’ and are intentional in our behaviors, attitudes or dispositions we can growth and development.

This study shines a bright light on the real value of cooperation in group work. We can grow in our abilities to learn from and contribute to and work cooperatively in groups.

This study validates the significance of having women in groups that cooperate. The study doesn’t say, a woman, it says women: Potentially, many women.  Thus, when we (men or women) from groups it is important to have women in the group.  And of course, if the group does not have a cooperative style – say it is a ‘top down’ or argumentative ‘last person standing’ style – such a group clearly would not be a cooperative group.

Any time the sum of the whole can be expanded by something we can control – like getting very good at cooperation and like be sure to have women in groups – I say “let’s get on with it!!!!


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