Friday, October 1, 2010

"Rome was not built in a day."

If you want collective smarts, include women in your group.
If you want collective smarts, include women in your group.
If you want collective smarts, include women in your group.
If you want collective smarts, include women in your group.

Sorry to shout at you House of Commons and Canadian political parties, but sometimes you can be a little thick headed.  No matter how you read it or where you put the emphasis, this headline (and article) in today's (New and Improved!) Globe and Mail contains an important message for our democracy.  To make the Canadian Parliament(s), political discourse and decision-making work better, we need more women - preferably in equal numbers to men at the table.

The aspect I find most interesting in the article and the referred-to study -- one which I myself have pontificated upon -- is the concept of decision-making and the impact of gender on it. (Of course as the study is published in the journal, 'Science', I predict one party to ridicule and dismiss it, quickly, harshly and often. But that would be a partisan aside.)

Here are some relevant quotes from the article:

"“The individual intelligence of members is not a very strong predictor of collective intelligence,” said lead researcher Anita Woolley, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.
Researchers divided 700 people into groups of two to five, and set out to measure their ability to perform tasks such as brainstorming, solving puzzles and making moral judgments. The goal was to assess collective intelligence, dubbed the “c factor.”
They found that groups that worked well were ones where members interacted and participated equally. They tended to include more women.
“We didn’t expect that the proportion of women would be a significant influence, but we found that it was,” Prof. Woolley, an organizational psychologist, said in an interview. “The effect was linear, meaning the more women, the better.”"
"Tiffany Paulsen, a Saskatoon lawyer and city councillor who sits on numerous working groups and committees, has found that women tend to take a collaborative approach to decisions and weigh issues from different perspectives.
“When you have more thoughtful and intelligent discussions, the quality of your decision increases,” she said. Men tend to be more aggressive in their statements and interactions, she said, while women tend to be more “reflective.”
“It does increase the group intelligence. The more thought you put into what you say, the more likely it will improve what comes out of your mouth.”"

My view is that it is literally only natural that men and women, who (without other societal impact) exist in equal numbers and who are obviously different, complement each other in the system sometimes referred to as humanity.

In other words "the system" works best when we work together, the way we were intended.

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