Based on intensive research in interdisciplinarity in the natural sciences, Laurel Smith-Doerr and Jennifer Croissant engage the question of gender differences in the practice of interdisciplinary collaboration. This is a topic that receives relatively little attention, and the authors identify mixed signals for women scientists—a catch-22 in which women are, often simultaneously, expected to work in interdisciplinary ways (partly due to gender stereotypes), while also advised that doing so is too risky for career development.
Laurel Smith-Doerr is a professor of sociology and the inaugural director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Smith-Doerr investigates how scientific collaboration, gender, and organizations are connected and where they lead to institutionalization of inequalities. She has presented her research on gender inequalities to interdisciplinary academic and to policy audiences as well, including on Capitol Hill and to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.