How do men and women differ in research collaborations? An analysis of the collaborative motives and strategies of academic researchers
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.
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