Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams

innov-potThe Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business at the London Business School has released a report called Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams, which explores the role that gender plays in team work. The study looked at teams in a variety of gender compositions, taking into account such factors as the style of team leaders, the way team members interacted, and the quality of relationships built within and across teams.

“Our interest in this study is to take a closer look at the impact of gender diversity in professional working teams engaged in knowledge-based work.”


  • Male team leaders work an average of 52 hours each week, compared to 44 hours for female team leaders
  • Female team leaders are six times more likely to perform the majority of domestic duties than men
  • 96% of male team leaders have children, compared to only 48% of female team leaders

Spillover — both negative and positive — often occurs between home and work life. The negative spillover decreases passion, reduces commitment, affects participation in the team, and impacts the potential for innovation.

  • Team members consider home more important, while team leaders consider work domain more important
  • Team members have more positive spillover between work and home life; but the spillover is negative for most team leaders
  • Women tend to feel the negative impact of the spillover more acutely, but men experience more negative spillover on the whole

Because negative spillover is such a large problem for men, companies should think about encouraging more men to take advantage of flexible work hours, currently utilized mostly by women.

“Those in a gender minority tend to report lower life satisfaction, more negative moods and lower commitment to the organisation.”

  • When men are a minority in a group, they tend to focus on the others in the group
  • When women are the minority, they are more likely to network outside the group than when they are the majority

OPTIMAL GENDER MIX: 50% men and 50% women

For experimentation, efficiency, and psychological safety, the report found that a 50/50 gender balance is ideal. A 60% female, 40% male mix creates the optimal conditions in terms of team self-confidence.

The report concludes with these four suggestions:

1. Encourage shared domestic labor
2. Actively manage spillover
3. Manage and minimize the minority experience
4. Optimize your team’s innovative potential

Read Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams here