Study: Want More Female Leadership? Use Consensus, Not Majority Rule


As startups, mega-corporations, and governments strain to promote women leaders in technology, new evidence suggests that the relative timidity of women may simply be a function of voting procedure. When men outnumber women, groups who strive towards consensus decisions, rather than majority rule, see greater female participation. “Unanimous rule protects minority women, and under this decision rule they take up their equal share of the conversation,” explains a new study in Political Science’s preeminent, journal, The American Political Science Review. For those organizations that have bought into the premise that females add valuable perspectives, this new research is a simple way to solve a perennial issue.

The experiment randomly assigned different proportions of men and women into deliberative groups, charged with figuring out how to allocate financial rewards to each member based on hypothetical work tasks [pdf]. The researchers coded how often women spoke compared to…

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