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Collaboration Bias?

Study finds that male full professors are more likely than high-ranking female academics to collaborate with more junior colleagues of the same sex.

By | March 3, 2014

FLICKR, WIERTZ SÉBASTIENHigh-ranking male academics are more likely to collaborate with same-sex scholars of lower rank in their departments than are high-ranking female professors, psychologist Joyce Benenson from Emmanuel College in Boston and her colleagues have found. Benenson’s team analyzed psychology publications by full professors, coauthored with same-sex departmental colleagues at 50 North American universities between 2008 and 2011, calculating the likelihood of coauthorship according to the number of available colleagues in the same departments. The researchers found that male full professors were more likely than female full professors to collaborate with same-sex assistant professors in their departments. “This is consistent with a tendency for men to cooperate more than women with same-sex individuals of differing rank,” Benenson and colleagues wrote in a Current Biology paper published today (March 3).

“In ordinary life we often think of women as being more cooperative and friendly with each other than men are,” Benenson said in a statement. But, at least for this study’s sampling, she said, “this is not true when hierarchy enters the picture.”

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