This week we learned how diversity can create both a positive and negative environment. We learned about prejudice and discrimination, conflict and conflict resolution. What I wanted to discuss in this week’s blog in particular is functional diversity. According to the text, functional diversity refers to the idea that “each person in a group brings different strengths and talents to the group process” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, p. 336 2012). Some examples of this might be individuals from lower/higher socioeconomic backgrounds, individualistic versus collectivist societies, or even just men and women.
I found the experiment conducted by Schruijer and Mostert in 1997 very interesting because the results showed that “more creative solutions to problems emerged when groups were composed of both men and women…” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, p. 336 2012). I decided to research this idea on my own to see if I could find any reasons for this, other than men are from Mars and women are from Venus.
I ended up finding an article written by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz (2014) describing four generalized brain differences in brain functioning. While I didn’t necessarily find merit in three of them for this particular blog, I did find the first difference interesting. According to the article, men use 7 times more gray brain matter for processing, and women use 10 times more white brain matter (Jantz, 2014, para. 2). Gray matter is more localized in the brain while white matter is more like a networking grid (Jantz, 2014, para. 3-4). What scientists believe is that the use of localized gray matter leads to a type of tunnel vision, and this is why men can get very focused and caught up in tasks ((Jantz, 2014, para. 3). The use of white matter, on the other hand, allows women to move from subject to subject and task to task more easily (Jantz, 2014, para. 3).
These findings, and I’m sure many others, help to show why functional diversity could lead to greater creativity, and thus support diversity. If all groups were made up of only men or only women, some tasks may never get completed because we might move from one to another too quickly or because we NEVER changed tasks. While there are certainly less differences between men and women than people think, diversity is important in the respect that people of different genders, age groups, and cultures are going to be raised and taught differently and each of those people have the opportunity to bring a unique twist to groups.
Jantz, G. L., Ph.D. (2014, February 27). Brain Differences Between Genders. Retrieved September 26, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders
Schneider, F. W., Gruman J. A., Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE.