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    Women In Academia Are Less Likely Than Men To Cooperate With Lower-Ranked Colleagues
    By News Staff | March 3rd 2014 03:12 PM | 19 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    When it comes to demographics and society, no one likes surveys and statistics that make them look less positive. Yet surveys and statistics are all we have to go by in order to know if people are treating each other the way they expect to be treated in turn.

    In society, there is a belief that women will be more cooperative than men. In academia, that is not the case, according to a paper in Current Biology. Instead, women in academia are less likely to cooperate than men.

    The findings are based on an analysis of the publication records of professors working at 50 North American universities.And the lack of cooperation is most evident in an area where women overwhelmingly dominate - psychology.

    "People are often upset to hear evidence of sex differences in behavior," says Joyce Benenson of Harvard University. "But the more we know, the more easily we can promote a fair society."

    Males cooperate more in nature also, such as we see among other primates. To explore these dynamics in humans, Benenson and colleagues looked to academia, because it had the basic information they needed — individual rank, evidence of mutual investment, and a baseline number of males and females — which is less easy to find about the military, government, or business. Female professors are still underrepresented in areas of science like chemistry and physics (and to some extent in biology) so they went where they had ample data - psychology departments.

    Using numbers of co-authored, peer-reviewed publications as an objective measure of cooperation and professorial status as a measure of rank, the researchers calculated the likelihood of co-authorship with respect to the number of available professors in the same department. Their calculations showed no difference between men and women at all among individuals of equal rank.

    Yet male full professors were much more likely than female full professors to co-author publications with a same-gender assistant professor, which is a lower rank. In other words, differences in rank didn't get in the way of cooperation amongst men in the way that it did for women.

    Benenson says they are planning a number of follow-up analyses to find out if men in psychology are underrepresented yet somehow still prevent women from cooperating more. Or if women simply fail when they attempt cooperation. Is the reluctance to cooperate driven from above or below? And what would encourage women to reach out and cooperate more?

    The bottom line for now, they say, is this: "In ordinary life we often think of women as being more cooperative and friendly with each other than men are, but this is not true when hierarchy enters the picture," Benenson says.

    Citation: Joyce F. Benenson, Henry Markovits, Richard Wrangham, 'Rank influences human sex differences in dyadic cooperation', Current Biology 24(5) pp. R190 - R191 3 March 2014 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.047


    Comments

    Obviously this must all be the fault of men.

    Hank
    I am betting "Benenson says they are planning a number of follow-up analyses to find out if men in psychology are underrepresented yet somehow still prevent women from cooperating more" will somehow end up being a statistically significant result. 
    So... let me get this straight.

    Men have some ability to affect the cooperation of women even when they're a minority in a given community. But women don't have the ability to affect the cooperation of men even when they're a majority in a given community?

    Has the good professor considered that another potential confound is amount that women impede cooperation in men? And that maybe in departments where there are fewer women, men cooperate even more? Or is covering all your bases too intelligent for hack scianity?

    Hank
    Dunno, it's not my hypothesis. I haven't read Benenson's book but the premise she sets out to debunk - that women are more sociable and men are more competitive - is at least interesting, because it isn't following whatever the latest fad in psychology is, and isn't all weak observational claims derived from surveys of undergraduate psychology students.
    I'll make that same bet.

    "Benenson says they are planning a number of follow-up analyses to find out if men in psychology are underrepresented yet somehow still prevent women from cooperating more."

    Translation: since this makes women look bad we'll try and figure out a way to blame women's uncooperative behavior on men!

    It seems that in "ordinary life" the thinking is that when women act better it's because they're inherently better, but when women act worse it's because a man made them do it.

    "Benenson says they are planning a number of follow-up analyses to find out if men in psychology are underrepresented yet somehow still prevent women from cooperating more."

    That should be an easy one. Take a look at male-dominated fields. If women in those fields are more likely to cooperate with lower-ranked colleagues than in psychology, men are good for cooperative behavior. If there's no difference, men can't be blamed. Only if women are even less likely to cooperate with lower-ranked colleagues there might a link.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    The bottom line for now, they say, is this: "In ordinary life we often think of women as being more cooperative and friendly with each other than men are, but this is not true when hierarchy enters the picture," Benenson says.
    This is a rather outrageous claim to make simply from this data taken from the one region, North America (NA) because the same study could also be used to imply that NA male professors would rather coauthor a paper with a lower ranking NA male than cooperate with another equal ranking NA female Professor or that high ranking NA female professors cooperate and coauthor papers well together.The abstract says :-
     'We compiled all publications co-authored by full professors with same-sex departmental colleagues over four years in 50 North American universities, and calculated the likelihood of co-authorship in relation to the number of available professors in the same department (Supplemental information). Among those of equal status (full professors) there was no gender difference for likelihood of co-authorship: women and men were equally likely to co-author publications with another full professor of the same gender. In contrast, male full professors were more likely than female full professors to co-author publications with a same-gender assistant professor. This is consistent with a tendency for men to cooperate more than women with same-sex individuals of differing rank.'
    Surely this data contradicts itself? How can there be no gender difference for the likelihood of coauthorship with another full professor male or female yet more likelihood that a male full professor would coauthor publications with with another male assistant professor? 

    Imagine the scenario of 2 male full professors, two female full professors, two male assistant professors and two female assistant professors all coauthoring papers together. If the full professors were equally likely to coauthor with each other then how could the male full professors be more likely to coauthor with an assistant male professor? Also, who are the assistant female professors coauthoring with? Are assistant female professors more likely to coauthor with another female assistant professor and/or are they equally likely to coauthor with male assistant professors or even with male full professors? Who is more likely to be coauthoring with the female assistant professors, that's what I think is really interesting about this study and what I would like to know? I will try to find the paper and analyse the data when I have more time :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Surely this data contradicts itself? How can there be no gender difference for the likelihood of coauthorship with another full professor male or female yet more likelihood that a male full professor would coauthor publications with with another male assistant professor?

    You're making this needlessly complicated when it is simple. There is no contradiction, the conditions are exclusive of each other, they're saying their findings found a male full professor is more likely to coauthor a publication with a male assistant professor than a female full professor is to coauthor a publication with a female assistant professor.

    You rhetorically assert there is a contradiction, but you do not find one.

    "Imagine the scenario of 2 male full professors, two female full professors, two male assistant professors and two female assistant professors all coauthoring papers together. If the full professors were equally likely to coauthor with each other then how could the male full professors be more likely to coauthor with an assistant male professor?"

    I laughed when I read this.

    Coauthoring something with one full professor does not stop them from coauthoring another project with an associate professor.

    Both the male and female full professors could coauthor with their associates on projects even when they had coauthored with their peers, females chose not to.

    "Who is more likely to be coauthoring with the female assistant professors"

    From the study findings, not a full female professor.

    I really have no idea what you're taking issue with, your deduction is sketchy at best.

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hmm, well I've had a closer look at the the authors, the study and the data that is supporting these to me, quite outrageous claims. Dr Joyce Benenson is a female Professor of Psychology from Harvard who is now teaching and researching at Emmanuel College where she describes her research focus as :-
    ...understanding the biological and ecological factors that influence cooperation and competition between human beings. I examine the influence of age, sex, kinship, social structure, dominance status, and familiarity on degree of cooperation and competition that occurs between individuals ranging in age from newborns through middle adulthood. Much of the theory behind my research stems from findings from research on humans' closest genetic relatives, Pan troglodytes (chimpanzees) and Pan paniscus (bonobos). I collaborate with researchers who study non-human primates in the department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University where I am an Associate Member. I employ methods drawn from the fields of animal behavior, evolutionary biology, cognition, economics, anthropology, neuroscience, sociology, and developmental psychology. Recently, I have conducted research in Uganda to examine the cross-cultural generalizability of my findings. I encourage students interested in working on my research projects to contact me early in their careers at Emmanuel College. 
    Which immediately makes her very interesting because I also find bonobo research fascinating. She has co-authored a book with a male psychology professor Dr Henry Markovits that is quite brilliantly called 'Warriors and Worriers' which is probably an interesting read :-
    Warriors and Worriers - The Survival of the Sexes
    Joyce F. Benenson and With Henry Markovits
    • Presents a new evolutionary theory of sex differences
    • Argues against familiar wisdom that women are more sociable than men and that men are more competitive than women
    • Incorporates research with children and primates towards a primal understanding of human nature
    • Explores friendships and relationships from an evolutionary perspective
    So Dr Joyce Benenson appears to have a personal agenda and is looking for research data to support their new evolutionary sex differences theory or hypothesis about male and female relationships, aggression and social exclusion.

    If you look at her Pubmed history she has been publishing peer reviewed papers since 1986 and there are some obvious gaps between years of publications, 7 years then 4 years and then a 2 year gap which implies to me that she probably took time off on several occasions to have children, especially as around that time she also became very interested in and published papers about neonates cuddliness and then sex differences in child development and their dyadic and group interactions, subjects that interest many new mothers.

    What I find interesting about the data for this study is the way in which it was selected and what was therefore excluded from the study and why? First of all, all studies with more than one coauthor were excluded! We tallied 'the total number of publications (N = 369) between two same-gender full professor co-authors within the same department for females (N = 58), and for males (N = 311). As our model applies only to dyadic cooperation, we did not include publications with more than two co-authors from the same department in any of our analyses'. If the same had been applied to Dr Benenson's own quite prolific number of publications over the years then less than half of her research papers would have been included in the study.

    Also, the difference between the sample sizes of 58 and 311 is huge and could easily cause skews in the statistical data, especially as they then claim that 'the number of publications varied widely between departments (between 1 and 496), we first calculated mean numbers of female and of male pairs across departments, weighted by the total number of publications per department. This gave weighted mean numbers of senior female dyads (F = 11.93) and senior male dyads (M = 56.07)'. IMO that is another very large difference in sample sizes and 11.93 is too small a sample size to support these very strong claims.

    My hypothetical example of "Imagine the scenario of 2 male full professors, two female full professors, two male assistant professors and two female assistant professors all coauthoring papers together. If the full professors were equally likely to coauthor with each other then how could the male full professors be more likely to coauthor with an assistant male professor?" turned out to be almost exactly what the supplemental data revealed :-
    Inclusion criteria for each university consisted of having a psychology department  which included in 2012 at least two female and two male full professors and two female and two male assistant professors. Universities in 42 states and eight provinces (N=50) were identified that satisfied these criteria. We then used the PsycINFO© database to generate a list of all  refereed journal articles published between 2008 and 2011 for each full professor, while eliminating duplication
    So to cut a long story short. The study and the data do not reveal how many research publications the female assistant professors were even producing and this could have also seriously skewed the data. If they were anything like Dr Joyce Benenson when she was younger then many of them could have been taking occasional time out to have children and not publishing much with anyone, either male or female, in those earlier years. In which case the results from this study could simply be showing that female assistant professors tend to be younger than female full Professors and therefore are more likely to be taking breaks to have children and/or possibly tend to coauthor with more than one other person because they were maybe working part-time and/or didn't want as much overall research responsibility during that period?
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    It's not the only example of a rather outrageous claim in the social sciences. On the other hand ... the claim that women are more cooperative is also based on social science and might be rather outrageous as well. Don't you think so?

    Women are more status-oriented than men. It's not as readily apparent since women are not necessarily going for typical status-oriented jobs. But, it's noticeable in their social lives.

    The women as co-operators myth has been around for quite awhile. Hence they are supposedly better managers, etc.

    Ever worked in a department with a large number of women? It's an experience is all I'll say.

    Hank, yes, there will be a 'study' that will show women are 'prevented from cooperating more'. Never fear. If true, the irony would be lost on women anyway.

    Agree. In a corporate environment, I am grateful not to be part of the feminine hierarchy.

    Maybe this just means that men are more likely than women to force their way into being listed as the author of an article written by a junior colleague. http://curt-rice.com/category/gender-equality

    That could well be, but it is established in academia that this "forcing their way" is correct procedure.

    The full professor gets their name as co-author even if the student or assistant professor basically does all the work. That's how it works, but it does vary from nation to nation, so redoing this research in a different cultural setting would be interesting.

    Your hypothesis is that the female researchers cooperate, but in secret. Looking at who authors a paper only slightly correlates with who actually contributed, for female authors. I think that would be a hard hypothesis to prove, but it's interesting.

    Thus, your hypothesis does not p

    pretty common that the full professor get their name as a co-author anyway.

    except that "forcing their way"

    Or that female assistant professors try to avoid having female full professors as main author.

    I think both of these hypotheses can be debunked by analyzing the data.

    This is true. Women in Academia are such Biatches. I emailed and asked like 10 professors to help me out with a project, 2 met with me, BOTH MALES. One Female emailed me saying she doesnt feel comfortable.

    Hank
    A professor who doesn't feel comfortable interacting with students? Here is hoping you are at a research school and not a teaching one. 
    I hate to say this, but I have noticed this. I had a female president of an organization talk to me like I was completely beneath her. I hope further research is done because I would like this to be an anomaly.

    Glad I'm not the only one who caught the "men are the minority, but it's still their fault" line. Another point though; when Benson says "In ordinary life we often think of women as being more cooperative and friendly with each other than men are, but this is not true when hierarchy enters the picture." Did this take anyone else by surprise? Granted men are more competitive, but I've always viewed males as more cooperative. Women almost seem to hate each other. Women seem much more individualistic than men. If you put a group of guys together, they'll make friends. Put a group of women together, they'll pretend to make friends while silently tearing each other apart in their heads. I suppose this is a bit biased though, coming from a male's perspective.