Problem-solving work groups and individual career development benefit from accurate recognition and deployment of expertise.
People who are perceived as experts by team members, regardless of their actual expertise, have a number of career advantages, found Washington University’s J. Stuart Bunderson:
- Greater influence in group decision-making,
- More opportunities to perform,
- Great opportunity for team leadership roles.
In addition, peer evaluations of expertise frequently contribute to individual rewards, compensation, and advancement, noted Rutgers’ Nancy DiTomaso, D. Randall Smith and George F. Farris with Corinne Post of Pace University and New Jersey Institute of Technology ‘s Rene Cordero.
Teams benefit when they accurately identify and use group members’ expertise because they perform more effectively and produce higher quality work products, found Cornell’s Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt, Tonya Y. Ogden of Washington University, and Stanford’s Margaret A. Neale.
However, women in science and engineering do not have equal opportunities to fully use their expertise in work groups, and to receive commensurate rewards, reported Penn State’s Aparna Joshi.
She obtained peer ratings and longitudinal research productivity data for 500 scientists and engineers and found that women’s technical expertise was undervalued by male colleagues in peer ratings.
Male and female raters assigned different importance to education when evaluating team members’ expertise.
Women’s ratings were correlated with the target person’s education level, but males evaluators considered educational attainment less than male gender in assigning highest ratings for expertise.
As a result, women’s highest ratings went to those with the highest education level, whereas men’s top evaluations were assigned to other men, no matter their education level.
Women received significantly lower expertise evaluations than men, and men evaluated highly educated women more negatively than female raters who assessed their peers.
These findings suggest that male peers discount women’s educational achievements and are unlikely to effectively use women’s expertise, to the detriment of team work output as well as individual recognition.
-*How do you ensure that your expertise is recognized and applied in work groups?
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