Knowledge and Networking in Professional Labor Markets: Do Conferences Impact Scientific Careers?

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


Workers across many sectors, especially high-skilled workers like scientists and engineers, face a trade-off in how much time to allocate to producing new knowledge, and how much time to spend networking – or spreading those ideas and gaining new skills and knowledge at professional events, such as scientific conferences. However, we still understand very little about the impacts and value of these professional activities. The goal of the proposed project is to provide new evidence on how scientific conferences impact scientists’ professional networks, knowledge flows, and ultimately careers. The project will involve producing and analyzing a new panel dataset of the career histories of computer science, physics and mathematics researchers, including detailed information on education, employment, conference attendance, publications and patents. Using these data, I will calculate measures of scientists’ networks using information on collaborators, citations and acknowledgements. To examine the causal impact of conferences, I will employ several strategies to identify exogenous variation in conference attendance and identify wider sets of potential conference participants to create plausible comparison groups. One key focus of the analysis is understanding whether opportunities for and the potential benefits of conference attendance differentially accrue to men more than for women, and whether this can be a channel leading to gender differences in science.

Grant Product

Biased Beliefs and Entry into Scientific Careers

Upjohn Institute Working Paper No. 20-334, 2020