Women Prove a Smart Addition to the Team

EMS continues to be a male-dominated profession, but recruiters take note: An organization’s “collective intelligence” positively correlates to the proportion of females in the mix, according to a Science study by Anita Williams Woolley et al published online Sept. 30.


“We define a group’s collective intelligence as the general ability of the group to perform a wide-variety of tasks. “¦ Note that this kind of collective intelligence is a property of the group itself, not just the individuals in it,” the researchers wrote. Interestingly, they found that the intelligence of individual members of the group wasn’t a significant predictor of group performance. But three factors were associated with higher collective intelligence: 1) a group’s average “social sensitivity,” 2) group members’ ability to take more equal turns in conversation, (i.e., avoid having a few people dominate) and 3) a greater number of women in the group. “This result appears to be largely mediated by social sensitivity, since (consistent with previous research) women in our sample scored better on the social sensitivity measure than men.”


The researchers questioned whether a collective intelligence test could, for example, predict a top management team’s effectiveness. “The ability to measure collective intelligence as a stable property of groups provides both a significant economy of effort and a range of new questions to explore in building a science of collective performance.”

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