For Women, Competition Is A Creativity Killer, New Study Finds

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In the workplace, a commonly-used tactic to get the creative juices flowing is stirring some competition into the mix. However, a competition isn't a right way to produce results when it comes to teams of women, a new study shows.

For women, it seems that competition isn't key to a successful work environment. In fact, it's detrimental. A new study of male and female college students in groups, as well as over 50 various teams at an oil and gas company, done by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis determined that when competition is involved, women's creativity drops when it comes to teamwork in the office. Rather, when there is no competition factor, teamwork in the workplace helps women increase productivity and creativity.

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An explanation of this phenomenon can come from a lack of self-confidence, Murkus Baer, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis and one of the study's authors, says. "My hunch is that women disengage from the creative process because they anticipate that they will enjoy the process less if it involves competition," Baer told Business News Daily. "Women might see themselves as less competitive and probably sense that others may not expect them to do well either." Well, that's disenheartening.

Perhaps because men are less likely to doubt themselves, for men, their creativity thrives in a competitive atmosphere—but that's it. When there is no competitive factor, women outperform men. Maybe with added confidence, competition will have a greater performance effect on the work women are doing, too. Until then, employing varying motivational tactic with employees is a sure way to guarantee creativity across the board.

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