Nanotechnology researchers' collaboration relationships: A gender analysis of access to scientific information

Africa Villanueva Felez, Richard Woolley, Carolina Cañibano
Social Studies of Science

Women are underrepresented in STEM fields, particularly at higher levels of organizations. This paper investigates the impact this underrepresentation has on the processes of interpersonal collaboration in nanotechnology. Analyses are conducted to assess: 1) the comparative tie strength of women’s and men’s collaborations; 2) whether women and men gain equal access to scientific information through collaborators; 3) which tie characteristics are associated with access to information for women and men; and 4) whether women and men acquire equivalent amounts of information by strengthening ties. Our results show that overall tie strength is less for women’s collaborations, and that women acquire less strategic information through collaborators. Women and men rely on different tie characteristics in accessing information, but are equally effective in acquiring additional information resources by strengthening ties. The paper demonstrates that the underrepresentation of women in STEM impacts on the interpersonal processes of scientific collaboration, to the disadvantage of women scientists.