Diversity and inclusion: buzzword or real value?

Letizia Clementi, Riccardo Cavadini, Fabiola Casasopra, Marco Rabozzi, Sara Notargiacomo, Marco D Santambrogio

2019 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON)

The STEM field is characterized by a strong gender gap, both in Business and in Academia. Previous studies showed how the gender gap presents some peculiarities: women result to publish less than men across all disciplines, and this is the reason why this publication gap is often referred to as “productivity puzzle”. Strongly believing that gender should not influence the choice of the career to pursue, recent literature in organization has paid greater attention to gender related issues, analyzing the role played by team heterogeneity on performance. Such studies often obtained controversial outcomes, suggesting that the relationship between group heterogeneity and performance is a complex phenomenon. The dynamics taking place within working groups have been vastly studied in organizational psychology, showing that factors shaping group members’ behavior are various. In this context, the working environment results to be a crucial factor. For these reasons, in this study we investigated the impact of heterogeneity on academic teams performance, taking into account gender representation in the overall working environment. More specifically, we evaluated the impact of diversity on the research conducted at the Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Biotecnologia of Politecnico di Milano, the first awarded technical university in Italy and at NECST Laboratory, a laboratory inside the Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Biotecnologia. Data are available for scientific paper published between 1965 and 2018. In this paper we studied the transformations occurred inside Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Biotecnologia in terms of gender representation between 1965 and 2018, taking into account teams characteristics, research outcomes and productivity puzzle. The results obtained showed how in both cases the impact of heterogeneity varied according to perceived value of diversity. Heterogeneity per se does not account for a boost in performance. Gender heterogeneity leads to an increase in performance only when also inclusion is achieved.

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