Diversity on Teams

The Impact of Gender Composition and Leadership on the Productivity and Authorship Practices of Interdisciplinary Research Teams

Ms. Jacalyn Beck, Michigan State University; Ms. Sheila Brassel, University of Michigan; Ms. Ellie Phillips, Michigan State University; Ms. Jordan Fornier, Michigan State University; Dr. Robert Montgomery, Michigan State University; Dr. Kevin Elliot, Michigan State University; Dr. Kendra Cheruvelil, Michigan State University; Dr. Isis Settles, University of Michigan

Gender diversity has been shown to have positive effects on team productivity across a variety of disciplines. Within scientific research teams, productivity is often measured by the number of peer-reviewed journal articles published by a team over time. However, it is unclear what role the gender composition of teams, specifically that of team leadership, plays in the resulting publications and their practices for co-authorship. We surveyed 118 researchers from 32 National Science Foundation-funded interdisciplinary environmental science teams on matters relating to team gender composition, inclusivity, leadership, and authorship. We collected information on the 377 articles published by these teams between 2006-2018, including author gender and number of co-authors. While most survey participants were satisfied with the authorship credit they were given in their team’s publications, significantly more men than women felt the credit they received was appropriate (75% vs. 57%, respectively). Women were more likely to not receive coauthorship for their work (33% of female participants vs. 24% of male participants). Only 19% of women felt that they always had the ability to influence policies or practices related to conducting and publishing research, compared to 36% of men. This may be indicative of the significantly disproportionate gender ratios within team leadership: on average, teams had 4.6 men PIs or coPIs and only 1.6 women PIs or coPIs. Results of this study have implications for the management of productive and inclusive interdisciplinary research teams.    

SciTS Presentation: BECK_Gender Authorship.pdf


Explorations of Temporal Diversity, Temporal Conflict, and Temporal Leadership

Dr. Susan Mohammed, Penn State University

Team research has frequently been criticized for neglecting the role of time (e.g., Kozlowski & Bell, 2003; Mathieu, Tannenbum, Donsbach, & Alliger, 2014). In response, recent research has explored temporality in team diversity, cognition, and leadership. With regard to diversity, individuals not only differ in demographic characteristics and personality traits, but also differ in their temporal orientation (Mohammed & Harrison, 2013). Some individuals are chronically hurried whereas others are relaxed (time urgency; Conte, Landy, & Mathieu, 1995). Some people complete work early while others wait until the last minute (pacing style; Gevers, Mohammed, & Baytalskaya, 2015). Some people prefer to focus on a single task at a time, whereas others prefer to work on several activities concurrently (polychronicity; Bluedorn, 2002). What happens when individuals with different orientations toward time have to work together interdependently in a team context? Does diversity of time-based individual differences contribute to dysfunctional conflict or facilitate complementary performance?

One study found that the mix of time-urgent and time-patient team members heightened temporal disagreements (Mohammed, Alipour, Martinez, Livert, & Fitzgerald, 2017). However, other research reveals that the answer to these questions depends on several moderating conditions. For example, the effect of time urgency and pacing style diversity were more positive when team temporal leadership (team leader behaviors that help to coordinate the pacing of task accomplishment) was high (Mohammed & Nadkarni, 2011). In addition, shared temporal cognition (common understanding of the time-related aspects of executing collective tasks) attenuated the negative effects of polychronicity diversity on team performance (Mohammed & Nadkarni, 2014). Recently, Gevers, Rispens, and Li, 2016) found that the relationship between pacing style diversity and team collaboration was positive only when both action planning and temporal familiarity (knowledge of members’ temporal traits) were high.

In sum, individuals often enter teams with diverse, deeply ingrained temporal orientations. A growing number of studies across diverse samples have begun to demonstrate that time-related dispositions of members are potentially crucial in teams and have important implications for team processes and performance. (e.g., Gevers et al., 2016; Mohammed & Angel, 2004; Mohammed & Nadkarni, 2011, 2014; Mohammed et al., 2017). How can this research be leveraged to enhance team functioning?

Unfortunately, the practical implications of this research have yet to be unpacked. In response, the focus of this presentation is to inform evidence based practice regarding temporal diversity, temporal conflict, and temporal leadership. Practitioners will be alerted to consider differences in members’ time urgency, pacing style, and polychronicity in forming and monitoring team progress. Explicitly discussing expectations regarding deadlines and pacing as part of the development of a team charter can structure this dialogue. Although temporal diversity can be a disruptive influence in teams, the interventions of temporal leadership, shared temporal cognition, action planning, and temporal familiarity can mitigate the negative effects of temporal diversity on team performance. Thus, important implications include encouraging leaders to actively coordinate the work of the team toward meeting deadlines and facilitating the process by which team members reach agreement about temporal milestones.

SciTS Presentation: Explorations of Temporal Diversity, Temporal Conflict, and Temporal Leadership


Strategies for Promoting “Teaminess” with a Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. Binyam Nardos, Oregon Health & Science University; Dr. Letisha Wyatt, Oregon Health & Science University; Dr. Damien Fair, Oregon Health & Science University

Research institutions are often encouraging and supportive of collaborative team science because they recognize that team science is more impactful and efficient relative to independent research by a single investigator. A primary reason for this observation is attributed to the increased creativity and diversity of ideas that team science affords. Needless to say, if diversity of ideas is to be enhanced within research, the teams and universities should be composed of a diverse group of investigators from different backgrounds. The OHSU Fellowship for Diversity and Inclusion in Research (OFDIR) is a program with a mission to do just that – i.e., to enhance diversity of ideas in OHSU research teams by actively working to recruit and retain postdocs and junior investigators from underrepresented communities (e.g., primarily racial minorities, persons with disabilities, and from underserved communities). To grow a diverse scientific workforce at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), OFDIR focuses on supporting the career development of diverse talent and creating a national network of OHSU-connected underrepresented scientists. Our Fellows report that attractive components of the OFDIR program include financial support (salary, relocation and research enrichments funds), mentorship on grant and manuscript writing, and professional development opportunities for career advancement. Coordinating efforts with programs targeting undergraduates and post-baccalaureates at OHSU, such as NIH-funded BUILD EXITO and PREP, respectively, allows OFIDIR Fellows and research mentees invaluable mentoring and informal teaching experiences. These interactions also enhance relationships and community for underrepresented individuals across OHSU’s interdisciplinary teams. Sense of community is typically very important to diverse candidates, and as such, OFDIR works with Fellows to ensure they feel welcome and connected both professionally and personally via programs such as our monthly presentation series and frequent socials at OHSU and within the greater Portland area.  Since the establishment of OFDIR in 2012, the program has accepted 14 underrepresented Postdoctoral Fellows across departments and programs ranging from Cancer Biology, Dentistry, Neuroscience, and Engineering while coming in considerably under budget and outpacing recruitment goals. Several postdocs have continued their fellowship in their host lab or taken their next career step at OHSU, including Faculty positions. When surveyed on a five-point likert scale, all Fellows consistently report being “likely (4)” or “highly likely (5)” to recommend the program. We see an increase in the number that report “strongly agreeing” with continuing in science when asked about their investment in pursuing a scientific career while comparing pre- and post- OFDIR experiences. In the future, we will extend OFDIR Postdoctoral Fellowships to other areas of OHSU through collaboration with similarly aimed programs in Family Medicine and the School of Public Health. We hope that other groups focused on team science will make concerted efforts to embed inclusivity and support of diverse individuals in their efforts to account for the successes of Team Science.

SciTS Presentation: Strategies for Promoting "Teaminess" with a Focus on Diversity and Inclusion


Team Climate Mediates the Effect of Diversity on Science Teams

Dr. Isis Settles, University of Michigan; Ms. Sheila Brassel, University of Michigan; Dr. Patricia Soranno, Michigan State University; Dr. Kendra Cheruvelil, Michigan State University; Dr. Georgina Montgomery, Michigan State University; Dr. Kevin Elliott, Michigan State University

Background: The scientific community is striving to become more demographically diverse and promote the advancement of groups that have been underrepresented in the sciences. At the same time, scientific research is increasingly conducted in teams. However, creating successful diverse teams is not a simple matter of recruiting more individuals from underrepresented groups. In fact, diverse teams can struggle with allocation of credit, differences in perspectives, and unequal power dynamics. We propose that a critical factor for addressing these challenges and promoting the success of diverse science teams is team climate, or the perceived set of norms, attitudes, and expectations on a team. Although industrial/organizational psychologists have examined climate and its associations with teamwork and job satisfaction in traditional business workplaces, there are surprisingly few studies on the associations between diversity and climate within science teams. In this study, we sought to address this gap by examining how individual and team diversity are related to team climate, satisfaction, and perceptions of team functioning.

Method: In a sample of 266 researchers working in NSF-funded interdisciplinary science teams, we conducted a path analysis to examine whether team climate (measured as procedural justice, collaboration, and inclusion) mediates the associations between individual and team demographic diversity and three outcome variables: team members’ overall satisfaction, satisfaction with team authorship practices specifically, and perceptions of the frequency of data sharing on their team.

Major findings: Regardless of one’s own characteristics, researchers on more diverse teams reported a more positive climate than those on less diverse teams, which was associated with more positive outcomes. In contrast, we found that researchers from underrepresented groups reported more negative perceptions of team climate, which was associated with more negative outcomes. Thus, overall, team diversity is associated with a more positive climate and better outcomes. However, the individuals who contribute said diversity – the team members from underrepresented groups – report more negative climate and outcomes.

Implications: Our findings about the positive effects of team demographic diversity are aligned with the literature indicating that diversity can have a number of beneficial effects on team outcomes. Demographic diversity might improve team climate because team members from traditionally underrepresented groups may be particularly likely to identify concerns about power dynamics and unfair or exclusive practices on these teams. However, we also found that individuals from multiple underrepresented groups (e.g., women, people of color, LGBTQ team members) perceived team climate more negatively than their socially dominant counterparts, and as a result reported more negative outcomes. The less positive outcomes for these individuals may be the result of “token effects,” which occur when group members experience stresses such as performance pressure and social isolation because they have characteristics that are unique within their teams. Thus, our results support ongoing efforts within the scientific community to incorporate more individuals from underrepresented groups in scientific teams, but we add the important caveat that it is critical to provide these individuals with adequate support and recognition, and to study additional ways to improve team climate for all team members.