A Case for Collaboration?

// Posted by on 03/26/2012 (10:21 PM)

Collaboration can be a powerful tool. However, is it in our nature to collaborate? Forbes says yes, at least for female collaboration. While musing over the general notion of collaboration, I looked back on my personal experiences. Collaboration is arguably frowned upon in schools (think doing homework or assignments collaboratively… in most schools this is considered cheating). If individuals are conditioned through education and collaboration is not encouraged, is it possible to expect collaboration through the internet to solve problems? Of course, there are moments—group projects— when collaboration is encouraged in schools. However, most individuals fear group projects because they cannot control every aspect. In group projects, every member should have an equal share in the work. While that’s wonderful theory, anyone who has ever been part of a group project knows that this is rarely the case. There is usually a group “leader” who usurps the power and probably does most of the project allowing the other members to merely write their names on it.

So this morning when I stumbled upon an article on that discussed the rise of social collaboration, I was intrigued. The articled discussed a theory of the owners of “that acknowledging a major difference between men and women will make all the difference for the tools of Web 2.0 being built today.” The difference is simple, four words:

Men network, women collaborate.

About 77% of Groupon’s income come from a female consumer base. The company just took their ability to tap into that market a step further through the creation of the Groupon Scheduler, which will allow women to collaborate online directly with the businesses they use. There is no denying that men network and women collaborate. Linkedin has done it’s own research and found that “globally, men are more savvy networkers than women.” Moreover, the Pew Internet Research found that nearly twice as many men use LinkedIn as women (63% vs. 37% respectively).

The article ultimately states that it is surprising that such a “lack of online social collaboration tools being designed for women” exists. I found this whole article rather interesting and surprising, since I do not usually view females as better collaborators than men. I think Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk on Gaming and her I Love Bees article, really challenge the legitimacy of this theory. From McGonigal’s viewpoint it seems that anyone can be an excellent collaborator if provided the right mindset.

What do you think? Are women natural collaborators? Can men be as well? Does Jane McGonigal challenge your initial beliefs?


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Abbey said...

I agree to some extent that women are natural collaborators while men tend to use networking more to their advantage to get ahead. I think this goes back to the argument of agentic vs. communal traits and how agency and communality are viewed differently in men and women. The double bind women find themselves in the workplace– to be respected and not liked or to be liked and not respected– is directly because of the expectations society has for them to demonstrate traits typical of a woman: communal ones. A woman is expected to be warm, nurturing, kind, soft, etc. and, therefore, willing and able to work with others and collaborate. To get ahead, a woman must display the perfect mixture of these two types of traits. Collaboration is a key element to that. I don’t think, however, that men are incapable of collaborating. I agree with McGonigal that men are perfectly capable of collaborating just as well or as much as women. I just do not believe it is something that society has molded men to do.

// 03/27/2012 at 1:15 pm

Kelsey said...

I agree with Abbey that society has not really conditioned men to be good collaborators, generally men will communicate when necessary in the work place and that’s about it. Based on what I’ve seen I think it’s an identity issue, women like to identify with their work and make it an extension of them where as men often see their work and home life as two separate spheres. But, like McGonigal so passionately believes, if given the right tools and conditioning/practice this can change. Collaboration and networking can become a more ubiquitous method of achieving something.

// 03/29/2012 at 1:56 am