Encouraging individuals to form gender-balanced teams can improve entrepreneurial team performance.
Students are divided into teams that vary in terms of their gender balance to see how gender diversity affects the performance of the businesses that these teams start and run.
A very popular entrepreneurship education programme for post-secondary education in the United States and Europe. Students are required to found and run real businesses, which are then dissolved at the end of the academic year. Everything about the companies, including tax and social security payments is real, so teams need to get involved in all the activities that are required to run a business in real life: raising capital by issuing shares, appointing officers, producing and marketing products or services, keeping the accounts and conducting shareholder meetings, among others. Finally, each company has an assigned university tutor and a business coach to report to.
- To maximise the performance of the businesses that teams start and manage
The entrepreneurship course took place at a university in a city that’s considered to be an important startup hub.
Teams of approximately 12 students on an international business programme. Team members are young and highly educated individuals who generally lack experience. Teams of women and men are comparable in terms of education and experience.
The gender diversity of the teams varies, with some teams being predominantly men, while others have a more equal gender mix, and only a few are predominantly women (given that the majority of participants on the course are men).
- Gender-balanced teams outperformed teams dominated by men, with sales and profits increasing as the percentage of women in the team grew from 20 per cent to 50 per cent.
- Gender-balanced teams also outperformed predominantly women teams, although this result is only suggestive, given the low number of teams formed predominantly of women in the study.
- Gender diversity should be encouraged in contexts where individuals tend to team up with peers of the same gender only, as it might improve team performance.