Today’s ADVANCE article comes from the field of medical sciences, where women are increasingly more prevalent; simultaneously, the field is moving towards more team approaches to research. The study authors collected a set of 6.6 million medical research papers over the last 20 years to assess the impacts of gender diversity among research authors on the relative impact of the work being produced. The authors found that research teams that were more gender-diverse produced publications that were significantly more novel than same-gender teams. Gender-diverse teams also produced significantly more highly cited papers than same-gender teams.
These findings were broadly generalizable across all of the medical subfields included in the sample of 15,000 journals. Mixed-gender teams typically have characteristics that would predict higher impact, such as diversity of expertise and larger network sizes and ranges, yet even when these characteristics are held constant the gender-diverse teams perform better than same-gender teams, suggesting that there are other causal factors at play. More work in this area is needed, but gender diversity in STEM work appears to have clear benefits not only for the practitioners of the STEM work being done, but also on the scientific work being produced.
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