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A tie is a tie? Gender and network positioning in life science inventor collaboration

Kjersten Bunker Whittington

Research Policy, 2018, vol. 47, issue 2, 511-526

Abstract: Collaborative relationships are an important anchor of innovative activity, and rates of collaboration in science are on the rise. This research addresses differences in men’s and women’s collaborative positioning and collaborator characteristics in science, and whether network influences on scientists’ future productivity may be contingent on gender. Utilizing co-inventor network relations that span thirty years of global life science patenting across sectors, geographic locations, and technological background, I present trends of men’s and women’s involvement in patenting and their collaborative characteristics across time. Amidst some network similarities, women are less likely to connect otherwise unconnected inventors (brokerage) and have greater status-asymmetries between themselves and their co-inventors. In multivariate models that include past and future activity, I find that some network benefits are contingent on gender. Men receive greater returns from network positioning for brokerage ties, and when collaborating with men. Women benefit from collaborating with women, and are more likely to collaborate with women, but both men and women collaborate with mostly men. I discuss the implications of these results for innovative growth, as well as for policies that support men’s and women’s career development.

Keywords: Commercial science; Collaboration; Women; Science workforce; Networks (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L26 D85 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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