New books


Women's Work

Gender Equality vs. Hierarchy in the Life Sciences

Laurel Smith-Doerr

Lynne Rienner 2004, 205 s. ISBN 1-58826-264-2
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

Women scientists working in small, for-profit companies are eight times more likely than their university counterparts to head a research lab. Why?

Laurel Smith-Doerr reveals that, contrary to widely held assumptions, strong career opportunities for women and minorities do not depend on the formal policies and long job ladders that large, hierarchical bureaucracies provide. In fact, highly internally linked biotechnology firms are far better workplaces for female scientists (when compared to university settings or established pharmaceutical companies), offering women richer opportunities for career advancement.

Based on quantitative analyses of more than two-thousand life scientists' careers and qualitative studies of scientists in eight biotech and university settings, Smith-Doerr's work shows clearly that the network form of organization, rather than fostering "old boy networks," provides the organizational flexibility that not only stimulates innovation, but also aids women's success.

Laurel Smith-Doerr is assistant professor of sociology at Boston University.


  • Introduction.
  • Explaining Sexual Apartheid in Science.
  • A Brief Life Story of the Life Sciences.
  • Life in the Commercial Laboratory: Institutionalizing the Network Form.
  • Coming in on Queue? Men's and Women's Entry into Biotech.
  • Networks versus Hierarchies in Promoting Women Scientists.
  • Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility: Narratives Explaining Gender Equality in Biotech.
  • Conclusion: The Knowledge Economy, Innovation, and Equality.
  • Appendix: Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods to Study Scientists.