July 8, 2015

By Margaret Lisi

We’re taking on new roles and breaking barriers all the time. Isn’t it a given that we have a place at the office conference table?

Well, yes and no.

Of course, many a mom would answer as she juggles kids, carpool, jobs and more (yes, guys, we know you’re much better than Dad was). And yes, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! did it while having a baby (gasp!). Why? We naturally collaborate to make our lives and careers work.

Here’s the no: In just one study from 2012, scientists from the University College London, the London School of Economics and Denmark’s Aarhus University found that testosterone makes people less inclined to collaborate and more egocentric. Hi, guys.

In fact, studies have found that both men and women are 40 percent more likely than average to collaborate with others of their own gender. And men overwhelmingly like to work alone.

Social scientists have actually proven that gender impacts how we collaborate, and women are just – better – at it than men. Even more studies are underway, because understanding gender barriers in the workplace and what factor they play in our success has a real potential to change the way we collaborate at work and even at home.

By studying the barriers to collaboration, it’s possible to remove them and increase productivity, or to better match members of a group with specific skill sets or strengths for greater success.

So go ahead; invite that woman from IT to your next meeting. It may lead to a better, more productive plan than you’d think.

Margaret Lisi is the founder and president of ST!R Marketing in Atlanta and a regular guest on our “Women on Wednesday” segment. Read more of her thoughts on the power of collaboration and how it can boost creativity in the workplace.