Using the prisms of gender and rank to interpret research collaboration power dynamics

Monica Gaughan, Barry Bozeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Collaboration is central to modern scientific inquiry, and increasingly important to the professional experiences of academic scientists. While the effects of collaboration have been widely studied, much less is understood about the motivations to collaborate and collaboration dynamics that generate scientific outcomes. A particular interest of this study is to understand how collaboration experiences differ between women and men, and the attributions used to explain these differences. We use a multi-method study of university Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics faculty research collaborators. We employ 177 anonymous open-ended responses to a web-based survey, and 60 semi-structured interviews of academic scientists in US research universities. We find similarities and differences in collaborative activity between men and women. Open-ended qualitative textual analysis suggests that some of these differences are attributed to power dynamics – both general ones related to differences in organizational status, and in power dynamics related specifically to gender. In analysis of semi-structured interviews, we find that both status and gender were used as interpretive frames for collaborative behavior, with more emphasis placed on status than gender differences. Overall, the findings support that gender structures some part of the collaborative experience, but that status hierarchy exerts more clear effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-558
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Academic rank
  • Gender
  • Scientific collaboration
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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