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Danish Centre for Studies in Research and research Policy, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University 



Gendered innovations, History of Science, Stanford University

Assistant Professor


Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University

Associate Professor


Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen



Making gender diversity work for scientific discovery and innovation

[Nature Human Behaviour 2, 726–734].   [preprint]

Gender diversity has the potential to drive scientific discovery and innovation. Here, we distinguish three approaches to gender diversity: diversity in research teams, diversity in research methods and diversity in research questions. While gender diversity is commonly understood to refer only to the gender composition of research teams, fully realizing the potential of diversity for science and innovation also requires attention to the methods employed and questions raised in scientific knowledge-making. We provide a framework for understanding the best ways to support the three approaches to gender diversity across four interdependent domains — from research teams to the broader disciplines in which they are embedded to research organizations and ultimately to the different societies that shape them through specific gender norms and policies. Our analysis demonstrates that realizing the benefits of diversity for science requires careful management of these four interdependent domains.


One and a half million medical papers reveal a link between author gender and attention to gender and sex analysis

[Nature Human Behaviour, 1(11), 791-796] [open access]

Gender and sex analysis is increasingly recognized as a key factor in creating better medical research and health care1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Using a sample of more than 1.5 million medical research papers, our study examined the potential link between women’s participation in medical science and attention to gender-related and sex-related factors in disease-specific research. Adjusting for variations across countries, disease topics and medical research areas, we compared the participation of women authors in studies that do and do not involve gender and sex analysis. Overall, our results show a robust positive correlation between women’s authorship and the likelihood of a study including gender and sex analysis. These findings corroborate discussions of how women’s participation in medical science links to research outcomes, and show the mutual benefits of promoting both the scientific advancement of women and the integration of gender and sex analysis into medical research.


Opinion: Gender diversity leads to better science

[Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(8), 1740-1742] [open access]

Pick up any recent policy paper on women’s participation in science and you will find assurances that gender diversity enhances knowledge outcomes. Universities and science-policy stakeholders, including the European Commission and the US National Institutes of Health, readily subscribe to this argument (1⇓–3). But is there, in fact, a gender-diversity dividend in science? The data suggest that there is. Under the right conditions, teams may benefit from various types of diversity, including scientific discipline, work experience, gender, ethnicity, and nationality. In this paper, we highlight gender diversity. Guided by key research findings, we propose the following “mechanisms for innovation” specifying why gender diversity matters for scientific discovery and what managers should do to maximize its benefits. Encouraging greater diversity is not only the right thing to do: it allows scientific organizations to derive an “innovation dividend” that leads to smarter, more creative teams, hence opening the door to new discoveries.


Gender diversity in the management field: Does it matter for research outcomes?

[Research Policy, In print, Available online 19 April 2019] [paper]  [Preprint]

This study examines the relationship between gender diversity and research outcomes. Existing research on the topic primarily focuses on how team gender diversity influences scholarly productivity in terms of citations and publication rates. Far less attention has been devoted to the question of how the intellectual contents of research disciplines change as they become more gender diverse. Drawing on a global sample of more than 25,000 management papers, we use natural language processing techniques, correspondence analysis and regression models to illuminate impact-, content- and status-related dimensions of gender diversity in management research. In regression models adjusting for geographical setting, institutional prestige and collaboration patterns, we find no discernable effects of team gender diversity on per-paper scientific impact. In contrast, our analyses converge to yield a broadly consistent pattern of gender-related variations in research focus: women are well-represented in social- and human-centered areas of management, while men comprise the vast majority in areas addressing more technical and operational aspects. Our findings corroborate recent sociological research suggesting that cultural norms and expectations are channeling women and men towards different areas of work and study. We argue that the broadened repertoire of perspectives, values and questions resulting from gender diversity may render management research more responsive to the full gamut of societal needs and expectations.


Gender variations in citation distributions in medicine are very small and due to self-citation and journal prestige

[Elife, 2019;8:e45374 doi: 10.7554/eLife.45374] [Open access] 

A number of studies suggest that scientific papers with women in leading-author positions attract fewer citations than those with men in leading-author positions. We report the results of a matched case-control study of 1,269,542 papers in selected areas of medicine published between 2008 and 2014. We find that papers with female authors are, on average, cited between 6.5% and 12.6% less than papers with male authors. However, the standardized mean differences are very small, and the percentage overlaps between the distributions for male and female authors are extensive. Adjusting for self-citations, number of authors, international collaboration and journal prestige, we find near-identical per-paper citation impact for women and men in first and last author positions, with self-citations and journal prestige accounting for most of the small average differences. Our study demonstrates the importance of focusing greater attention to within-group variability and between-group overlap of distributions when interpreting and reporting results of gender-based comparisons of citation impact.





Laustsen, C. B., Larsen, L. T., Nielsen, M. W., Ravn, T., & Sørensen, M. P (2017). Social theory – a text book. 

(publisher's website)

Routledge, London.

Nielsen, M. W. (2015). New and persistent gender equality challenges in academia. 


Ph.D. dissertation, the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University. Politica, Aarhus University.