Study: Gender diversity makes us more productive but less happy

Employees working in an office split evenly between men and women are more productive but also less happy than those in single-gender offices, a newly released study has found.

The recent MIT study on gender diversity in the workplace studied an unnamed Boston-based company between 1995 and 2002. The organisation had 60 offices around the world, some of which were male-only and some of which were female-only. Researchers interviewed almost 23,000 women and more than 2000 men, measuring cooperation, trust, and work enjoyment.

MIT economist and study co-author Sara Ellison ​said  that having a diverse set of employees gives firms a broader skill-set to approach challenges with, and revenue in an evenly split office increases by as much as 41 per cent, opening up new possibilities for organisational productivity solutions.

The perception that a company is diverse was also found to increase employee satisfaction, but not in the areas of the company where gender diversity lined up with better financial results. 

"[Workers] may like the idea of a diverse workplace more than they like actual diversity," Dr Ellison said. 

"We all think that we want to be in this pluralistic society in a diverse setting. But when push comes to shove, when our co-workers don't think like we do, that can cause some friction," she told The Boston Globe.

Organisational development consultant Dr Anne Litwin told the paper that the study's results were not surprising. Men, she said, can find working with women difficult because they had to self-censor the things they would otherwise say in all-male company, and so "they feel like their equilibrium is being thrown off, and it's uncomfortable".

Women, she said, "feel like they have to be assertive to be heard, and then they get accused of being the 'B' word. They get told that they're hard to work with."

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