Diversity and inclusion are two terms that we’re hearing more than ever today. This is a good thing, because when it comes to adapting to a changing marketplace and rapidly advancing technology, more diverse thinking and creative communication can make all the difference in a team. However, many companies still struggle with this concept, and even while they strive to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce, find themselves fighting to achieve their goals. But the latest research out of Harvard shows that hiring more women on your team can actually lead to more collective intelligence. Here’s what that means for you and your career if you are looking to make a name for yourself as a female engineer.
Understanding Collective Intelligence
There are many different kinds of intelligence as we understand it. There is technical intelligence, there is social intelligence, there is even spatial intelligence that may greatly impact how a team performs. Collective intelligence is directly related to the performance of a team. According to this Harvard University study, it’s been shown that while individual IQs do not directly impact the success of a team, the inclusion of more women has been shown to increase the collective intelligence of a group. They perform better when working together. In many cases, they may perform better than groups of just men. In the field of engineering, a traditionally male-dominated workforce, being a woman may just give you an edge over the competition. Lean in to your differentiators when it comes to succeeding through the use of collective intelligence at work.
Social Sensitivity and Collective Intelligence
A fair portion of the findings around these studies speaks to the importance of social sensitivity in team performance. Women are generally better skilled at working together, listening to each other, and providing constructive feedback. The smartest team is not necessarily one full of the smartest people, but it really depends on how those people work together and how they respond to social cues from the people they work with. These kinds of intelligence create stronger products and services and in turn generate stronger financial returns.
Emotional intelligence is another critical element to a team’s collective intelligence because a happy team works together better and is motivated to work well together for the long term. As a woman, you may or may not consider your social skills to be a critical part of your engineering impact, but it may be what helps you stand out from an otherwise introverted and socially limited talent pool.
This report shows that there is some evidence to suggest that collective intelligence has a great impact at the organizational level as well as the team level. Some companies that do well at scanning the environment and setting targets also excel at managing internal operations and mentoring employees—and have better financial performance. Consistent performance across a variety of skill areas suggests an organizational collective intelligence, which could be used to predict company performance.
Companies that hire for a well-balanced (not too homogenous, not too diverse) workforce is strongly indicated as a pathway to financial success. As a woman engineer, that’s an opportunity for you to come in and add some balance to your team and your team’s organization. By providing different perspectives and bringing a unique perspective to any project, you can help your broader organization better understand the full picture.
If you are looking to build your career as an engineer, connect with the team at ESGI today.