Gender differences in early group formation

Anna Lyn Prytherch, Eileen Sinnott, Anne Elizabeth Howells, Nerys Fuller-Love, Bill O'Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to establish whether different gender groups develop in similar or dissimilar ways to conventional group formation patterns. Focussing primarily on Tuckman's model of group development, male, female and mixed gender learning networks (groups) of entrepreneurs were observed over a six month period, with the observations recorded and analysed, to establish whether different gender networks of business people adhere to Tuckman's model of group development in terms of early development and cohesion through the forming, storming and norming stages.

Design/methodology/approach – A total of 100 entrepreneurs were recruited in Autumn 2009/Spring 2010 and allocated to three different gender networks, male, female and mixed, in Ireland and Wales (six networks in total), as part of the Sustainable Learning Networks Ireland Wales (SLNIW, for detailed information about SLNIW see INTERREG 4A funded project. The groups began networking in January 2010, observed by impartial observers who noted group behaviour and dynamics and recorded observations quantitatively (based on adapted Bales criteria) and qualitatively. It is the results of these observations that form the basis of this paper.

Findings – This paper analyses the results of the group dynamic witnessed over subsequent network meetings for different gender mixes in Ireland. Whilst the observations are still ongoing, early results indicate that early engagement with group members, team bonding and group dynamics are formed sooner in the single gender groups. The paper explores why this could be the case and considers factors that could then address problems with early group development in mixed gender networks, so that the ultimate “performing” stage of group development and optimal business performance is achieved as early as possible.

Originality/value – This paper will be of considerable value to academics, theorists and practitioners. It will specifically add to the body of knowledge on single gender networks to see if they provide a more effective learning environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-152
JournalInternational Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2012


  • Entrepreneurs
  • Gender
  • Gender differences
  • Group dynamics
  • Group formation
  • Ireland
  • Networking
  • Networks
  • Small to medium-sized enterprises
  • Wales


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