If your veterinary practice is male-dominated, even if it's just a few especially opinionated men, consider this: New experiments in group decision making show that having a seat at the table is very different than having a voice. Scholars at Brigham Young University and Princeton examined whether women speak less than men when a group collaborates to solve a problem. In most groups that they studied, the time that women spoke was significantly less—amounting to less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke.
The study's authors say women have something important to add to the group, and that’s being lost at least under some circumstances. There is an exception to this rule of gender participation, however. The time inequality disappeared when researchers instructed participants to decide by a unanimous vote instead of majority rule. Results showed that the consensus-building approach was particularly empowering for women who were outnumbered by men in their group.
Researchers say these findings apply to many different settings, such as school boards, governing boards of organizations and firms, and legislative committees. In these groups, women are often a minority of members and the group uses majority rule to make its decisions. These settings will produce a dramatic inequality in women’s floor time and in many other ways. Women are less likely to be viewed and to view themselves as influential in the group. The study will be published in the American Political Science Review.