New data and evidence on the organisation of science - implications for diversity and innovation

Dec 13, 2022

This seminar looked at how we can use new types of data to understand the structure of research organisations – which are major drivers of innovation and economic growth. Study of the new data show the common measures of scientific productivity (like publications and patents) may incorrectly measure the productivity of marginalised groups. One example is how Crick and Watson failed to credit Rosalind Franklin with her contribution to understanding DNA. The resulting skewed signals are likely to adversely affect the quality of research investment decisions.     


Women are less likely to be credited with authorship on scientific publications than men, suggests an analysis of US data published in Nature, which our seminar's speaker Julia Lane co-authored. This research received widespread international attention. This gender gap is found across almost all scientific fields and career stages. The findings may help to explain well-documented disparities in the apparent contributions of men and women in science. A complementary survey suggests this bias in science does not just apply to just women, but also non-native English speakers, first generation researchers and immigrants. The seminar also discussed possible policies to help attract and retain scientists from diverse populations and help improve the quality of science.


Finally, the seminar discussed how data infrastructure might be established in Aotearoa New Zealand. We looked at how data can allow more examination of the organisation of science — ranging from rich and complex data on the dynamic longitudinal interactions on what is funded (grants), who is funded (PIs), and the characteristics of individuals and research teams employed by those funds. Future work could also examine the effect of policies instituted by the research institutions at which researchers work (at the department, campus and university level on the retention and productivity of scientists, student placements and career trajectories, as well as business start-ups.


See news stories, twitter and blogs and the NYU press release about this research, and an interview with the seminar speaker in Times Higher Education


Here is a recording of the seminar. See Julia Lane's, Meghan Stephens's and Gary Dunnet's PowerPoint presentations.

Presenter: Julia Lane, Professor at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.


  1. Isabelle Sin, Senior Fellow, Motu Research, who has done considerable labour research on the gender pay gap
  2. Meghan Stephens, Principal Advisor, Analytics and Insights Team at Treasury.
  3. Gary Dunnet, Deputy Chief Methodologist, Stats NZ/Tatauranga Aotearoa 

This was a joint seminar hosted by The Treasury and Motu Research.

Motu Public Policy Seminars are free to the public, but please subscribe to receive email notifications of Motu's events and publications.

Thanks to The Treasury, the Productivity Commission, Stats NZ and EECA for their generous support.