Sex Roles

pp 1–13 | Cite as

Solidarity in STEM: How Gender Composition Affects Women’s Experience in Work Teams

  • Ashley A. NilerEmail author
  • Raquel Asencio
  • Leslie A. DeChurch
Original Article


The relationships among the percentage of women in a team and women’s sense of team identification and collective efficacy as well as team performance was examined. We explored these relationships in a sample of student teams conducting a semester-long social science research project within the context of science and technology-focused university. Findings with 95 U.S. college students (43 women) show that women experience higher team identification and collective efficacy as the percent of women teammates increases. Additionally, women’s team identification and collective efficacy mediate the relationship between the percentage of women on the team and overall team performance. Interestingly, the number of men on the team did not influence men’s sense of team identification, collective efficacy, or team performance. This research has implications for team composition. Specifically, when navigating diversity in teams, managers and leaders should aim to build teams that are composed of multiple women versus an approach that divides women up among various teams. In doing so, managers can better secure conditions for the development of positive teamwork experiences and, ultimately, performance.


Gender equality Identification Collective efficacy theory STEM Team composition 



The present material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation grant SBE-1063901, National Science Foundation grant SES-SBE 1219469, and the Army Research Office grant W911NF-14-10686, and in association with the Purdue Brock-Wilson Center for Women in Management.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

We would like to note that this is an original work, not published or submitted elsewhere, and there are no conflicts of interest (either financial or non-financial). This research was supported by the National Science Foundation grant SBE-1063901, National Science Foundation grant SES-SBE 1219469, and the Army Research Office grant W911NF-14-10686. Additionally, this work was presented at the 2016 Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research annual conference. This research involved human subjects, who consented to participation in this study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The School of CommunicationNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Krannert School of Management, Jane Brock-Wilson Women in Management CenterPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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