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Do Men and Women Differ in their approach to Research Collaboration?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

A recent scientific publication reveals the differences between men and women in research collaborations. An analysis of the collaborative motives and strategies of academic researchers was also presented.


Do men and women academic faculty vary in their research collaboration patterns and strategies? This straightforward question does not lend itself to a straightforward answer. A great many sex-correlated variables could possibly mitigate the relationship of sex and collaboration. If one finds sex-correlated differences in the number of collaborators, can one infer that there is something intrinsic to men's and women's work strategies and preferences? Or would such differences owe instead to women's and men's different positions in work structures and hierarchies? The focus here is on two sets of research collaboration variables, numbers of collaborators and the collaboration strategies employed. The study uses questionnaire data from the U.S. National Survey of Academic Scientists (n=1714) and tests several hypotheses about collaboration numbers and strategies. Regression results indicate, counter to the core hypotheses and almost all published literature, that in a properly specified model, one taking into account such factors as tenure, discipline, family status and doctoral cohort, women actually have somewhat more collaborators on average than do men. For both men and women, those with more industrial interactions and those affiliated with university research centers have more collaborators. Men and women differ in their collaborator choice strategies. Men are more likely to be oriented to “instrumental,” and “experience” strategies, while both men and women are motivated by “mentoring” strategies. Regression analyses show that for both men and women, having a coherent collaborator choice strategy predicts the number of collaborators.


► Unlike the recent past, women academic researchers in the U.S. now average more researcher collaborators than do men.

► The research examines numbers of collaborators for both men and women, using a number of moderators including age, tenure, discipline and degree cohort.

► For both men and women, those who are affiliated with university research centers and those who have stronger industry ties have more collaborators.

► Women and men differ somewhat in their research collaboration strategies with women being more oriented to instrumental and experience based strategies, whereas men are more likely to pursue mentoring strategies.

Article citation:

Barry Bozeman and Monica Gaughan. How do men and women differ in research collaborations? An analysis of the collaborative motives and strategies of academic researchers. Research Policy, Volume 40, Issue 10, 2011, 1393-1402.

ISSN 0048-7333.

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