Faculty Hiring and “profound social inequality”

Below is an abstract from a paper by Aaron Clauset.  He uses network theory to bring out inequalities in gender that are less visible with some other methods.

(The paper: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/1/e1400005.full)

The three disciplines in his study are business, computer science, and history.

The faculty job market plays a fundamental role in shaping research priorities, educational outcomes, and career trajectories among scientists and institutions. However, a quantitative understanding of faculty hiring as a system is lacking. Using a simple technique to extract the institutional prestige ranking that best explains an observed faculty hiring network—who hires whose graduates as faculty—we present and analyze comprehensive placement data on nearly 19,000 regular faculty in three disparate disciplines. Across disciplines, we find that faculty hiring follows a common and steeply hierarchical structure that reflects profound social inequality. Furthermore, doctoral prestige alone better predicts ultimate placement than a U.S. News & World Report rank, women generally place worse than men, and increased institutional prestige leads to increased faculty production, better faculty placement, and a more influential position within the discipline. These results advance our ability to quantify the influence of prestige in academia and shed new light on the academic system.  (My stress.)

The finding, though in some ways obvious, that increased institutional prestige leads to increased productivity is quite depressing when linked to the idea that women in general get less prestigious positions.


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