August 21, 2013

"Why Women Prefer Working Together (and Why Men Prefer Working Alone)."

There's a new study, and what do you want to bet the women's preference is based on the goodness of women and the men's preference is based on the badness of men? That's The Rule you know.

The squib at the first link is not very clear. It seems to assume that team work should be preferred, and the reason for rejecting it is a false belief that you're better than the people you'd be teamed with. There's no consideration of whether the perception might be true or whether there's an increased motivation to do better work when you're going solo. There's also this:
[Women] were... much more sensitive to increasing their potential partner's incomes, reinforcing a well-established idea that women demonstrate more "inequity aversion" than men. That is, they're less comfortable with their colleagues making dramatically different salaries.
No mention of the incentive to work harder and do better because you want to make more money.

55 comments:

David said...

Funny, my wife far prefers to work alone, and I like to work in groups. Are we gender confused? Or is this all just bullshit?

Hagar said...

I work pretty well with others as long as they do what I tell them to do and how.

YoungHegelian said...

Oh yes, women prefer to work in groups.

Until, of course, one of them them has a falling out with another woman in the group, and then watch out!

From that point on, the group dynamic is irrevocably poisoned. One or both of them must be taken out of the group by management.

You can take two guys who don't get along, sit them down, and say "Look, you two assholes have got a job to do here. You don't got to be drinking buddies. Soldier on and get it done, or I'm firing both of you." 4 out of 5 times, it'll work.

With women, don't even bother to try, just remove the "offender(s)".

BDNYC said...

Men like to be left alone. It's quieter that way.

Lyssa said...

Once again, when they talk about women, I feel as if they are talking about group I have nothing in common with. I hate working in groups, unless I have no idea what I am doing. Normally, I am better than the people I am teamed with, and they frustrate me when they wish to move more slowly. I like the idea of working somewhere where people earn different salaries, because that means that I can earn more.

The women characterized here are silly creatures that I want nothing to do with.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I hate working in teams. They get off task and waste time.

Here's the difference, I think: Many women conflate work with 'social time.' They enjoy working in teams because it's 'fun' and 'social' and 'meaningful.'

Men have lives outside of work. They want to finish the job quickly so they can get onto the things they enjoy. Small talk slows them down.

I tend to take a more 'manful' view of work, which is why men think I'm a great coworker (no drama, just efficiency) and women hate me.

Chesterton (the sage) actually had a riff on this. About how women are fanatically loyal to their families... so when you replace the family with the firm, they pour out their devotion and spend themselves in self-sacrifice just like they do at home. They want to feel LOVED at work.

Men want to earn their paycheck and go home.

R. Chatt said...

This must be why team sports like soccer, football, basketball, hockey have such a hard time getting guys who are willing to play. /sarc

Mike said...

"inequity aversion" - is that what we're calling jealousy/greed now?

Bob said...

There was a little one-minute story on NPR a few days ago that made me laugh out loud. It went something like:

Women are now equal to men in one unexpected area, namely, corporate embezzlement. Women who steal from their employers are now as common as men who do the same. But the research does show that when women steal, it's to get money for their families. When men steal, it's just for themselves.

(LOL!)

madAsHell said...

This is from the www.nber.org website:

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

The Atlantic links to a PDF, but I can't download because I have too much privilege, and I need to fork over $5.

TosaGuy said...

I prefer working alone because I can actually get my work done.

Crunchy Frog said...

Or is this all just bullshit?

If you have to ask, you know the answer already.

Henry said...

In the world of borscht-belt comedians and The Canterbury Tales, the well-established idea that women demonstrate more "inequity aversion" than men is called envy.

What Derek Thompson asserts, with no evidence whatsoever, is that group work is better work. The study didn't concern itself with the work product. It only figured out ways to manipulate people into accepting feel-good pay schemes.

The introverts got their week of glory. Time to push back on them. Who cares if mediocrity results.

lemondog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lemondog said...

Is it that women = insecure?

Fernandinande said...

Numerous studies have shown that women prefer to work in teams, men prefer to work alone, and women perform worse in competitive environments, even when their performance was similar to men in noncompetitive environments.

So men have better "performance", but that's bad because some feminists say men are "performing" the wrong way.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Are we gender confused? Or is this all just bullshit?

The latter. I hated "group assignments" in school; they were too transparently an attempt to take some of the teaching responsibilities off the shoulders of the actual teacher and fob them off onto the more advanced students, who were then made to dragged their not-up-to-speed "partners" through the work, because there was a group grade.

I'm a chamber-music nut (I'd rather play string quartets than do almost anything else), so it's not collaborating with other people that puts me off; it's dealing with assigned "teams" where there are large and obvious differences in ability to contribute anything useful among the members. Forced to choose between that and working alone, I'd certainly choose the latter.

Fernandinande said...

Numerous studies have shown that women prefer to work in teams, men prefer to work alone, and women perform worse in competitive environments, even when their performance was similar to men in noncompetitive environments.

So men have better "performance", but that's bad because some feminists say men are "performing" the wrong way.

n.n said...

Men routinely overcome their "preference" for independence, and women are equally capable. What is the significance of identifying a natural predisposition, while failing to emphasize the opportunity of freewill? They're trying to direct us into a state of mediocre existence. There's also an implicit effort to artificially reduce natural diversity, for, presumably, political, economic, or social benefit.

I wonder if these people are affiliated with the groups that are attempting to persuade people that human life should be regarded as a commodity, which only has an earned value. Perhaps I am overly cynical. I have not confirmed that association, but the effort to devalue human life is a clear and present danger.

Inga said...

As a nurse if you didn't work well with others, you were in a world of hurt. Team work it was.

Peter said...

Asking a group to do a task that can be done in a timely manner by an individual makes no sense, as there's inevitably overhead in dividing a task between multiple people that just isn't there when an individual does the whole thing- nine people on a job will not get it done nine times as fast.

Of course, there's also no question as to who gets the praise/blame when working by oneself. Which just might explain much of the observed difference- the stakes are higher when one works alone.

Of course, some jobs are just to big for an individual to handle- but that's hardly an excuse to use a group when an individual is sufficient.

jacksonjay said...

I confess, I didn't read the study, I did read the article.

Are we talking about women working with women or women working with both men and women? I don't think women like to work with men and I sure don't like being on a team with women!

Rob said...

From the scientific literature, the conclusion is inescapable: there are no differences between men and women except for those in which women are superior.

Hagar said...

@ Lyssa,
Danica Patrick is a woman and she is a driver, but she is not a woman driver.

Titus said...

I prefer to work alone. Unfortunately, in my strategic position, I am required to constantly work with others.

Nothing better, for me, than to close my door and not speak with anyone for an entire day.

Gahrie said...

it's dealing with assigned "teams" where there are large and obvious differences in ability

Teachers are taught to deliberately set groups up this way.

jimbino said...

Einstein changed the world with 5 articles he wrote alone in 1905, but he teemed up with a woman to breed and rear kids.

Just think if he'd done it the other way around!

elkh1 said...

Over achieving females are bitches. Over achieving males are ambitious.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hagar,

Danica Patrick is a woman and she is a driver, but she is not a woman driver.

Amen to that, and not just because of the point you were intending to make. The adjectival "woman" drives me bats. If you would ordinarily use "male" in front of a noun if you were talking about a man, use "female" in front of a noun when talking about a woman. If "man nurse" or "man secretary" sounds weird to you where "male nurse" or "male secretary" sound relatively natural, then ditch "woman composer" and "woman engineer" and "woman law professor" and the like. There's a perfectly good adjective for people with XX chromosomes; it's "female." Use it.

Alex said...

Team work it was.

Talking like Yoda, are we?

n.n said...

Teamwork is preferable for the assembly line. While independence is preferable for the pioneer or entrepreneur. Neither has a universal value, since it is context-sensitive.

The optimal value is closely approximated within a limited frame of reference by a multivariate distribution function where biases are observed with context shifts and external factors. That is to say that it is both adaptive and directed. It is governed by a chaotic process (i.e. bounded, with random intermediate behavior, directed by producers and consumers).

Anglelyne said...

Lyssa: Once again, when they talk about women, I feel as if they are talking about group I have nothing in common with. I hate working in groups, unless I have no idea what I am doing.

God, I know. A great deal of working life involves "team work" - sheesh, all those guys at Mission Control back in the glory days of NASA were lone gunmen, or something? But when it's consciously labeled "working in groups" (as if projects great and small done in the past by men didn't involve extensive logistical co-ordination), it's all about the less competent wasting the time and taking credit from the more competent. Those who can't, bullshit.

Deirdre Mundy: Here's the difference, I think: Many women conflate work with 'social time.' They enjoy working in teams because it's 'fun' and 'social' and 'meaningful.'

Yes. I've noticed that women who don't have objective professional skills seem more likely than men to not respect the distinction between public and private life. They're constantly trying to turn the work place into private space, which degrades both public and private life. (I may find friends among co-workers, but you're not my friend just because you're my co-worker.) Drives me crazy.

Henry said...

@inga -- if you read between the lines, or just use ellipsis, you realize that the point is to collapse the distinction between occupations:

Women outnumber men in many helping occupations, from charitable organizations to nursing....In manufacturing and other complex processes, teamwork is vital. It's not enough to focus on making brilliant women feel confident. It's also key to make overconfident men trust that their colleagues just might be competent.

In other words, it's not enough that people find the callings that match their capacities; the callings must be co-opted to meet some external common denominator.

It's all about money, of course. What Derek Thompson finds most clever about the experiment is its banal finding of the economic obvious: You can pay people to play along with mind games.

Or, as Talleyrand put it: "A married man with a family will do anything for money."

Annie said...

Team work is great so long as each team member is pulling their weight.
Otherwise, I prefer working alone. I get a lot more done and I hate estrogen-fueled drama. I also like working where there are different salaries or merit pay - incentive good.

gadfly said...

It has been my observation that groups of women do more talking than they do working - at least in an office environment. Perhaps a definition of "work" is in order here.

gadfly said...

I also find that working with women is ok, having women work for me is fine, but Katy-bar-the-door when I find myself working for a woman.

Women, you see, do not understand conflict - everyone must "get along." As a direct result of this female foible, confidential "tattle tale" lines are now available at large companies to report bad words and seemingly angry tones in exchanges between male employees - I kid you not.

Michael K said...

This just goes back to the ten reasons why men like guns more than women.

For example, "You can substitute a 22 for a 44 and no one gets hurt."

Freeman Hunt said...

When I worked, we all had to work together, men and women. Who knows what everyone preferred. I don't see that that would have made any difference to anything.

Freeman Hunt said...

Our major workplace drama queen-isms always involved men. Is this what that YMMV acronym is for?

RecChief said...

if you have ever been in a fire team or an infantry squad, you know what teamwork really is.

On the other hand, I build furniture, and I don't like anyone else in the shop when I am doing something serious. Having people around distracts me from making things like I see the picture in my head. Teaching time in the shop for my kids is different, since we are usually making their projects.

When I work on my stuff, I don't even like a radio.

Hagar said...

@Michelle Dulak Thomson,
For gentlemen of my age, "female" generally refers to creatures one takes to the vet to have spayed - or possibly "hysterical females" with the "hysterical" left out - and "lady" sounds kind of stilted, so "woman" generally is our preferred usage.

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, I am a guy who doesn't work all that well with others. So, I guess I prove the rule.

Didn't like group projects in HS - always got the worst partners or group members. Then, I went into programming after college, and very quickly found that I worked best alone. Got some projects where this was exploited by my management. I work my own schedule, where I get in late, and then work really really late. Wrote the mainframe interface code for reading the marks on Census forms, which was perfect for one person. Spent the next decade or so doing solo work in software, and then moved into patent law, where I continue to work by myself. Tried working patent applications with another patent attorney maybe 15 years ago, and that worked with most partners, but still much prefer doing so myself.

Part of it is that I get into a zone, and work straight through. I remember one time about 25 years ago when I was trying to understand some communications code on a benchmark. Everyone else left about 7, and all of a sudden, it was 7 the next morning, and they were coming back in. And, I had figured it out. And, to this day, that is how I work, straight through for long stretches. Having to interact with people just breaks my concentration, and I don't spool up or down very quickly.

colleen cafferty said...

I prefer working alone.

I do have the equality thing happening and not just in the area of money or achievement. Achievement is actually the easiest to take because it is somewhat earned - but beauty, money, sexual inequality (in the sense of sexual winners and losers, not men and women), class - yeah, that shit gets to me. I feel the pain/anger/embarrassment of one side and arrogance/obliviousness of the other immediately and keenly.

That's why I prefer to work alone. Hah.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hagar,

For gentlemen of my age, "female" generally refers to creatures one takes to the vet to have spayed - or possibly "hysterical females" with the "hysterical" left out - and "lady" sounds kind of stilted, so "woman" generally is our preferred usage.

Well, sure, if you're talking nouns. But adjectives? Would you call Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a "man driver"? Michael Tilson Thomas a "man conductor"? Harry Reid a "man Senator"? No? Then why use "woman" in the same place when talking about Danica Patrick or Marin Alsop or Dianne Feinstein? I have no problem with calling Patrick and Alsop and Feinstein "women." But "woman" just isn't an adjective.

rcommal said...

[this is the post I always have to post before I post the thing I really want to post}

rcommal said...

"Get on with it" is the thing most often lacking in teamwork.

"Get it done" is the thing most frustrated.

These two things are not unrelated, and the relationship between the two explains an awful lot about why so many things are done so poorly (yet are re-framed as being done well enough).

Just an observation.

Robert Cook said...

"Funny, my wife far prefers to work alone, and I like to work in groups. Are we gender confused? Or is this all just bullshit?"

Don't confuse your own (or others') particular preferences or experiences as universally true. Don't assume that discussions of general trends or preferences must mean that the trends/preferences under discussion are being said to apply universally, or that exceptions prove there is no such general trend. I hate football--(I hate all team sports, actually)--so obviously, there can be no such thing as a general tendency for men to enjoy watching Sunday afternoon football, either singly or in groups. Women have been known to complain about their husbands' devotion to Sunday afternoon football, so, obviously, there can be no such thing as women enjoying watching football themselves.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Kuhn and Villeval cleverly ran an experiment allowing men and women to select team-work versus solo-work, and then re-ran the experiment increasing the returns from excellent team-work by about 10 percent."

-- So, by artificially ensuring a situation where team-work was more rewarding, they ensured more people selected team-work. I wonder if they selected for situations where team work was LESS rewarding, if women would have opted for solo-work.

It also sounds like all the team projects in high school where the smart kids prayed to God they got grouped together so they didn't have to decide between doing all the work or letting the slackers hurt their GPA.

Matthew Sablan said...

... did that last comment make me sound like too much of a Man?

Tibore said...

Forget gender politics for a minute; I have a methodology criticism:

"We invited undergraduate students from the local engineering and business schools via the ORSEE software (Greiner, 2004)."

That is a rather tightly restricted demographic group in both age and education. This is not a true cross section of people, experiences, or values. I'd imagine a similar study done across other cross-sections of society (for example, inviting team sports athletes into things) would affect the findings.

Associated critique: We do not have a breakdown of numbers of men vs. women businesspeople nor a gender breakdown on the engineering side. Testable hypothesis: Males will be overrepresented in the engineering field, and also will be less "indoctrinated" into group project type work at that age than business students will, therefore representing a potential skewing of the results. I would've liked to see either a bit more variety in the chosen educational disciplines or a restriction to the business school. That is the obvious followup experiment to do to further test the gender-cooperation hypothesis being forwarded.

Part of the experiment giving me trouble, but which I don't have the knowledge to truly analyze: The total number of participants is 88. Medical science has used far smaller sample sizes before and still produced legitimate studies, but is that truly a large enough group to confidently apply all those p-values to?

Note: The study isn't standing alone. It does cite other, prior studies that appear to lend some support to the hypothesis. In short, it's not something done in a vacuum, so the point of the critique here is not to debunk the study as much as to point out the flaws and caution against assigning too much confidence to the study by itself. Again, I'd like to hunt down those other studies and see if they, too, are affected by sample group characteristics. I simply do not see the hypothesis holding up when certain groups of males - again, athletes on team sports, military men, older employed men working in group environments, etc. - are included, but that is itself something that's testable.

Hagar said...

But "woman driver" is, and we know what it refers to.

Hyphenated American said...

Speaking about performance, best chess players, mathematicians and physicists are men. Maybe man's desire to work alone is partly due to the fact that they are objectively better or because they strive to be better. What did summers say when he was the president of Harvard, which offends the hysterical crowd so much that he was fired?

Mike said...

I am a "woman driver" and I love the maneuverability of those tiny Asia imports.

Kirk Parker said...

MDT,

What I'd call Harry Reid can't be published on a family-friendly site like this.

Just sayin'.

Hagar said...

And these days Bradley Manning is a "female."

"I am Chelsea; hear me roar!"