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Gender Diverse Teams Produce Higher Impact and Novel Scientific Discoveries

Author: University of Notre Dame
Author Contact:
Published: 30th Aug 2022
Peer-Reviewed Publication: Yes
Additional References: Sexual Diversity Studies Publications

Summary: Our findings reveal potentially new gender and teamwork synergies that correlate with scientific discoveries and inform diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.


Gender Diverse

Gender diversity, or gender diversity, means an equitable or fair representation of people of different genders. It most commonly refers to an equitable ratio of men and women but may also include people of non-binary genders. Gender diversity on corporate boards has been widely discussed, and many ongoing initiatives study and promote gender diversity in fields traditionally dominated by men, including computing, engineering, medicine, and science. Gender diversity in company boards increases the diversity of ideas by introducing different perspectives and problem-solving approaches. This gives teams increased optionality and decision-making advantages. Today, companies are more likely to attract more diverse people and people who consider gender equality policies when considering different employers, which in general leads to improved reputation both directly and indirectly as since men and women have different viewpoints, ideas, and market insights, a gender-diverse workforce enables better problem-solving.

Main Document

The number of medical science publications by mixed-gender teams have increased over the past two decades but remains underrepresented compared to what would be expected by chance.

New research from the University of Notre Dame examines about 6.6 million papers published across the medical sciences since 2000 and reveals that a team's gender balance is an under-recognized yet powerful indicator of novel and impactful scientific discoveries.

"Gender-diverse Teams Produce More Novel, and Higher Impact Scientific Ideas" is forthcoming in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, from lead author Yang Yang, assistant professor of information technology, analytics and operations at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.

Conducting the first large-scale systemic investigation of the performance of gender-diverse research teams in the medical sciences, the team analyzed research publications by 3.2 million women and 4.4 million men scientists in more than 15,000 medical science journals from 2000 to 2019. Authors in all positions (lead author, second author, etc.) were included, and those who published multiple articles were not counted multiple times.

"We find the publications of mixed-gender teams are substantially more novel and impactful than the publications of same-gender teams of equal size," said Yang, who also studies how social networks and gender affect individuals' success. "And the greater a team's gender balance, the better the performance."

The team finds that advantages of gender-diverse teams hold for small and large teams, all 45 subfields of medicine and women- or men-led teams, and generalize to published papers in all science fields over the last 20 years.

"Our findings reveal potentially new gender and teamwork synergies that correlate with scientific discoveries and inform diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives," Yang said.

The study states:

"Laboratory experiments suggest that women on a team improve information-sharing processes on teams, such as turn taking. It might also be that women provide a perspective on research questions that men do not possess and vice versa."

Yang also said:

"Given the non-causal nature of our study, we are conservative in speculating on the theoretical mechanisms, but the richer descriptive findings in such a large-scale dataset are informative and point to a potentially transformative approach for thinking about and capturing the value of gender diversity in science."

The team finds the novelty and impact advantages among mixed-gender teams persist when considering numerous controls, including fixed effects for the individual researchers, team structures, and network positioning.

Since the last century, Yang says, science has undergone two transformations that may potentially be remaking scientific outcomes.

"One is the shift from individual to team science," he said. "So, increasing teamwork levels are broadly documented in different scientific disciplines. The second has to do with women's participation in science. Many policies have been made to increase women's attendance."

In medicine, women's participation rates have reached the same level as men's over the last decade. However, gender inequalities still exist in science, especially grants and prizes.

Because gender-diverse teams are still under-represented in medical science, Yang says the study may help speed breakthroughs by breaking down barriers to forming gender-diverse teams.

Co-authors of the study include Tanya Y. Tian from New York University, Teresa K. Woodruff from Michigan State University, and Benjamin F. Jones and Brian Uzzi from Northwestern University.

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Gender Diverse Teams Produce Higher Impact and Novel Scientific Discoveries | University of Notre Dame ( makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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• (APA): University of Notre Dame. (2022, August 30). Gender Diverse Teams Produce Higher Impact and Novel Scientific Discoveries. Retrieved September 23, 2023 from

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