Why You Should Include At least One Woman in Your Hackathon Team

October 22, 2018

With the F10 FinTech Hackathon in Vienna coming up, we have analysed what successful teams have in common. The findings: gender-diverse teams perform best. The diversity factor is even believed to have greater implications than the intelligence of individual members. The presence of female team members in male-dominated work areas increases objectivity, the group’s performance and overall satisfaction with the tasks. F10 therefore highly encourages the Hackathon participants to form diverse teams.

Organizational behaviour expert Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone, founding director of the MIT centre for Collective Intelligence, led a study about the correlation between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. The research team gave 18- to 60-year old men and women intelligence tests and afterwards assigned the subjects randomly to teams. Each group had to complete several tasks including brainstorming, decision making as well as visual puzzles and to solve one complex problem. The teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Surprisingly, the groups that had the members with most intelligence points did not earn significantly higher scores – but gender-diverse teams that had more women did.“In theory, the ten smartest people could make the smartest group, but it would not be just because they were the most intelligent individuals. What do you hear about great groups? Not that the members are all really smart, but that they listen to each other. They share criticism constructively. They have open minds. They’re not autocratic. And in our study we saw pretty clearly that groups that had smart people dominating the conversation were not very intelligent groups”, Woolley explained in an interview with the Harvard Business Review.

F10 has guided and supported FinTech and InsurTech Startups with strong female leadership

Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women on boards financially outperform their competitors. Gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits compared to male-dominated teams. The recruiting experts at DHR say that companies may find their growth and profitability hampered if they do not have the right mix of backgrounds and experience on their leadership teams.“Diverse teams are more likely to re-examine facts and remain objective constantly. They may also encourage greater scrutiny of each member’s actions, keeping their shared cognitive resources sharp and vigilant”, a Harvard Business Review article finds. Besides, greater diversity may change the way teams digest information needed to make decisions. “Our programs have also shown that diverse teams perform better”, says Thomas Landis, Head of F10. Among the examples for strong female leadership in the F10 alumni community are Megan-Bingham-Walker, co-founder and CEO of the InsurTech Anansi, and Sandra Tobler, CEO of the cybersecurity Startup Futurae. Sandra Tobler has recently been ranked among the ten tech leaders in the category “digital shapers” by the Swiss finance platform Bilanz.

“We have a long way to go still”

Yet, women remain underrepresented in the global FinTech industry despite many initiatives to sparkle young women’s interest in technology-related study fields from an early age and efforts to encourage female leaders in finance or tech companies. According to research by the headhunting firm DHR International, only eight percent of FinTech directors worldwide is female. “I often see a lack of female representation when I see leaders talking about the industry in general whether it’s blockchain, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence, technology. I am too often at events or roundtables or leadership meetings with no other females. This tells me we have a long way to go still”, Angelique Mohring, founder and CEO of the FinTech Gain X, is quoted in a “Forbes” article.

Many business and gender experts agree that female decision makers tend to evaluate background facts more thoroughly than their male counterparts. Christine Lagarde, managing director and chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) writes in a blog post about the ten-year anniversary of the crash of the Lehman Brothers: “A key ingredient of reform would be more female leadership in finance. I say this for two reasons. First, greater diversity always sharpens thinking, reducing the potential for groupthink. Second, this diversity also leads to more prudence, with less of the reckless decision making that provoked the crisis. Our own research bears this out—a higher share of women on the boards of banks and financial supervision agencies is associated with greater stability.”

Team up to create the next big thing at the F10 FinTech Hackathon in Vienna!

But it is not just about hard facts: a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership based on responses from almost 750 leaders and aspiring leaders stated that “having more women in the workplace is associated with positive organizational outcomes for both men and women”. This means that teams perceive work as more enjoyable, have a better work-life balance and are more likely to see “opportunities to make a difference”, according to the Center for Creative Leadership.F10 therefore highly encourages the participants of the F10 FinTech Hackathon in Vienna to form diverse teams and create the next big thing together.

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