The Australian is among the numerous outlets that were intrigued by a newly published paper on women in science:
Queen bees won’t work with wannabe’s in academia, study finds (Australian)Benenson, Markovits, and Wrangham of Boston, Montreal, and Harvard looked at psychology papers between 2008 and 2012 and they found a pattern that is rather novel but not completely unexpected when it comes to the issue of "women in science". Senior female scholars are rather unlikely to cooperate with junior female colleagues.
Rank influences human sex differences in dyadic cooperation (Current Biology, Cell, full PDF)
The authors actually "predicted" this conclusion and then they tested it using the ensemble of papers written at 50 North American universities. The assumption boiled down to previous observations that women prefer to reduce the group size in order to interact with one individual of equal rank only.
It should mean that, for example, female full professors are less likely to write a paper with a female assistant professor, and so on. They looked at the data and the expectation was confirmed.
There are many related, easier relationships you might conjecture, discuss, and test. For example, I believe that they haven't found a difference in the cooperation rate between two female full professors and two male full professors. To see the substantial sex differences, it's probably necessary to guarantee the unequal rank between the two cooperating sides.
Well, when I recall some observations in my years in the Academia, I must confirm that their finding does agree with my experience. I could tell you the names of several "pairs of women" that could serve as examples but of course, I won't (and please don't try to speculate because the number of female physicists I have met in my life is still rather high). There would be lots of talk about "discrimination of women by men" and all this junk. This talk was disconnected from the reality. I've actually never met a male faculty member who could be really accused of anything like that. Quite on the contrary, the favoritism aiding women was always omnipresent. And senior male scholars obviously like junior female collaborators – most of the senior male scholars are straight, after all.
However, if we focused on the relationships of female professors – a minority but for me, still a large enough ensemble for the conclusions to be more than a couple of random accidents – we could see that e.g. female postdocs were much more likely to have some relationship problems with the female faculty members, among analogous glitches.
The raw data don't tell us whether the difference is a "good thing" or a "bad thing" and they don't identify the actual "reason" behind the asymmetry. Nevertheless, the asymmetry is still there. You might suggest that the reduced ability of the senior women to cooperate is about their lower leadership abilities; or their being threatened by a potential new rising "queen".
Another possible comment that could "explain" those things is that women are used to a significantly smaller variability in between them so the very idea that "different women may have different ranks" is something they're not quite able to smoothly deal with.
Some of the popular articles discussing this topic also ask whether men or women are better in team sports. There are suggestions that despite the image of men as being more competitive (i.e. naively less cooperative), there is something in the men that makes them able to create more tightly cooperating teams.
There are many ways to think about the issues, many ideas how you may want to explain the patterns and that may be right or wrong. I feel that many of the questions could be rather easily answered – e.g. if you could just asked the scholars to give you a frank answer! But too much of this stuff is too personal and taboo; people may be hiding interests and emotions that are totally essential for them but that don't help to improve their image. And that's why lots of similar questions will probably remain shrouded in mystery for quite some time.
But what is clear is that there are significant statistical differences between men and women when it comes to their interests, talents, and abilities of many sorts; their competitiveness; their cooperativeness; their understanding and concentration of envy and jealousy; their way of mixing or separating the work from personal relationships, and in virtually all other aspects of life and work. Almost none of these differences is "absolute" so that you could say that "men always do XY" and "women never do XY" or vice versa. But rather small ensembles are usually enough to see the statistical differences between the sexes.