Public Release: 

Institutional prestige dominates faculty hiring, leads to systemic inequality

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Faculty careers are shut off to all individuals with Ph.D.s except those from a small number of universities, a new study of 19,000 faculty hiring decisions reveals. The research appears in the journal Science Advances.

The analysis by Aaron Clauset at the University of Colorado Boulder, along with Samuel Arbesman and Daniel Larremore revealed that overall, between 70 and 90% of professors at elite schools received their doctorates from other elite schools, while only about 5% received training outside this group. And, the researchers found a systematic bias against women with elite doctorates, who slid further down the hierarchy in their faculty jobs compared with men from the same institutions.

There's no organization that actually tracks faculty placements generally in academia, or even within most disciplines," said Clauset.

"These findings may help individuals who are contemplating a faculty career, and I hope they encourage a frank discussion more generally of whether the system is operating the way we want it to," Clauset added.

Ranking schools based on their position within this faculty hiring network may be a more accurate assessment of educational outcomes than authoritative rankings by the U.S. News & World Report and the National Research Council, the authors say.

The same methods used in this study could be used to assess the educational outcomes of undergraduate programs, or be applied to different networks such as the movement of employees among companies.

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On-site Media Availability

A media availability with Dr. Aaron Clauset, the lead author of the Science Advances paper, "Systematic Inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks," will take place at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting. This event, open to credentialed Annual Meeting press registrants only, will take place at 2:00 p.m. U.S. Pacific Standard Time on Friday, 13 February, in the San Carlos Room on the second level of the San Jose Marriott, 301 South Market Street in San Jose, California.

About AAAS

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, and Science Advances, a new digital, open access journal. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, http://www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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