Women in interdisciplinary science: Exploring preferences and consequences

Diana Rhoten, Stephanie Pfirman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


For at least a decade, U.S. funding agencies and university campuses have promoted the expansion of interdisciplinary research. At the same time, federal and local programs have sought to increase the participation of women and minorities in science, mathematics, and engineering. Research has focused on each of these trends independently, but very few studies have considered their interaction by asking how intellectual preferences for and professional consequences of interdisciplinary science might be influenced by gender, race, and/or ethnicity. Focused specifically on gender, this paper considers the expectation that women will be more drawn to interdisciplinary research, and explores the learning styles, work preferences, and career behaviors that might anticipate and/or explicate gender differences in interdisciplinary science. Principal mechanisms by which researchers engage in interdisciplinarity - cross-fertilization, team-collaboration, field-creation, and problem-orientation - are tested for evidence of gendering using preliminary empirical data from three studies. The results of this exploratory analysis offer clues about possible tendencies and raise questions about the potential costs and benefits for those who adopt them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-75
Number of pages20
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Interdisciplinary science
  • Knowledge production
  • Reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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