Creating work teams comprised of both genders is the most effective way to get things done, new research suggests.

A study revealed that the gender composition of work teams makes a difference in team effectiveness. Gender-balanced teams outperform both predominantly male and predominantly female teams, the research showed.

In the study, more than 300 management students were randomly assigned to teams. Some were predominantly female or male and some were gender-balanced, having about the same number of each sex. Men in teams with a balanced female presence had more positive experiences than they did in teams with a majority of men, the researchers found.

“We examined the impact of team gender on several variables important to team success, including trust, cohesion, inclusion and task/relationship conflict,” said Kaitlin Thomas, a doctoral candidate in industrial-organizational psychology at George Washington, where the study originated.

One explanation, Thomas said, is that women tend to be more relationship-oriented than men and are more likely to stress collaboration and inclusion of all team members. She said the findings suggest that gender diversity is important and that teams with a higher representation of women on top management teams can have a positive impact on organizational success.

The study, co-authored by George Washington professor Lynn Offermann, is scheduled to be presented at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Honolulu this May.

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