Women underperform creatively in group competitions
When competition between teams becomes cutthroat, women contribute less and less to the team's creative output, suggests a study.
In contrast to a good show when women work in teams that are competing against each other, if the teams are forced to go head-to-head, the benefits of a female approach vanish into thin air.
"Inter-group competition is a double-edged sword that ultimately provides an advantage to groups and units composed predominantly or exclusively of men, while hurting the creativity of groups composed of women," explained Markus Baer, an associate professor of organisational behaviour at Washington University in St Louis.
The study suggests that men benefit creatively from going head-to-head with other groups, while groups of women operate better in less competitive situations.
As inter-group competition heats up, men become more creative and women less so.
The findings are counter-intuitive because previous research has shown that women generally are more collaborative than men when working in teams.
"If teams work side by side, women tend to perform better and even outperform men - they are more creative," Baer noted.
As soon as you add the element of competition though, the picture changes.
"Men under those circumstances gel together. They become more interdependent and more collaborative, and women just do the opposite," he added.
According to Baer, nothing in his study suggests women are inherently bad at competition.
"It is not that women stink at competing; it is that the way society views women and the way we view competition, gender specific has an impact and that impact is observable in the field," Baer maintained.
The study appeared in the journal Organization Science.
(Posted on 12-08-2014)