Women talk more than men.
Women talk less than men.
-*Which is true?
Social context and expectations determine when females talk more than males, according to NYU’s Kay Deaux and Brenda Major of University of California Santa Barbara.
One investigation used electronic audio monitoring devices (digital “sociometers”) to identify gender associated with talk volume during a work collaboration project, and during lunchtime social conversations at work. This study was conducted by Harvard’s Jukka-Pekka Onnela and Sebastian Schnorf, with David Lazer of Northeastern and MIT colleagues Benjamin N. Waber and Sandy Pentland.
During the work project women talked significantly more than men, except when groups included seven or more people.
In contrast, women spoke less than men in larger groups during the work project.
In addition, women sat closer to other women in larger project groups.
During social conversations, women talked the same amount as men, and more than men when the group was large.
Group size is associated with women’s verbal participation in groups depending on the task focus vs. social focus.
These findings support earlier reports of equal verbal participation by women and men by University of Arizona’s Matthias R. Mehl, collaborating with Simine Vazire of Washington University in St. Louis. Their collaborators included University of Connecticut’s Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, with Richard B. Slatcher of Wayne State and University of Texas’s James W. Pennebaker.
This team analyzed voice recordings from more than 390 participants, and concluded that women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.
Women in large group social settings spoke more than women in collaborative work projects, found Onnela’s team.
The strongest difference in gender participation related to relationship strength and group size.
These results have implications for work groups that develop problem solutions and innovations.
Contributions from all women and men in diverse work groups are required to produce the largest number and most innovative solutions, according to Loyola University’s Lu Hong and Scott E. Page.
They found that diverse work groups produce superior solutions compared with homogenous groups, even if groups were composed of uniformly top performers.
In fact, a group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is most closely associated with:
- Proportion of females in the group,
- Average social sensitivity of group members,
- Equal conversational turn-taking.
This “collective intelligence factor” was not related to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, found Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Sandy Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone.
Women can apply these insights by increasing verbal participation at work to establish visibility and credibility, while contributing to group performance.
-*How do you determine your degree of verbal contribution in work groups?
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