Women in the Knowledge Economy

Understanding gender inequality through the lens of collaboration

Authored by: Itai Vardi , Laurel Smith-Doerr

Routledge Handbook of Science, Technology, and Society

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415531528
eBook ISBN: 9780203101827
Adobe ISBN: 9781136237164


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This chapter explores issues of gender inequality in the knowledge economy. Though the definition of “knowledge economy” may vary significantly and is itself gendered (Walby 2011), the increasingly blurred lines separating private firms and universities (Kleinman and Vallas 2001) call for expanding the analytical perspective. In our analysis we thus adopt a broad definition of “knowledge economy” that includes science-intensive industries, such as information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology (Moore et al. 2011: 510), as well as traditional knowledge producing organizations in the academic and non-profit research sectors. Because U.S. for-profit firms employ 59% of workers whose highest degree is in science and engineering (NSF 2012), we feel it is critical to examine gender inequality in for-profit settings as well as in academia where it is most often studied. The knowledge economy is increasingly central to comprehending broad social processes underway in science and technology, and it thus also holds an important key to understanding gender dynamics.

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