Women, Men, Science, and Communication

Catherine M Quinones cquinon at larry.cc.emory.edu
Fri Mar 29 08:52:59 EST 1996

Karen Allendoerfer (ravena at cco.caltech.edu) wrote:
: What do you think about the differences between groups of 3 or more men vs.
: 3 or more women vs. mixed groups? 

I vaguely remember some management class I had to take as an undergrad... 
one of the few things that stuck was something about 3 being the ideal# of
participants in a group.  2 is fine too, but it's not a group, it's a pair
:) Beyond 4, it becomes easier to form sub-groups, to exclude/ignore
another person, etc...  I also think that once you get past 3 there's a
tendency for entropy, and a tendency for one person to try to take charge,
either by monopolizing the discussion or trying to moderate it. 

Going from the above tendencies (to "gang up" or to self-appoint as
moderator/leader), I can see how the gender of the participants could make
the dynamics more interesting (or ugly, as the case may be).  I am not
saying that a same-sex group causes all the brains to turn to mush,
intelligent discussions can certainly take place.  BUT, how productive
that discussion is still hangs from what the members are like.  And it
also is affected by the relationship these members have, one-on-one, with
one another, regardless of gender.  E.g., if you are facing a group of
"old boys" you can expect them to offer an unified front: this makes sense
because (1) they share the same opinions (and we all like security in
numbers!) and (2) they have a history of being allies (favors are owed,
friendship is involved, some of the members stand to gain from backing up
other members).  I think both #1 and #2 can have a huge effect on the
dynamics of the group, individually or synergistically.  Now, 
historically, since in many/most institutions men have dominated power, it 
looks like #1 and #2 are a continuum... which makes it all look like it's 
a gender thing when in reality it's a power thing (and we know that 
historically, gender and power also have gone hand in hand).

Help! I've babbled and I can't get up! :) 

Cathy Quinones 					quinones at mindspring.com
http://www.mindspring.com/~mintz/coverpg.html = bird care info
Poicephalus rule!!

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