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.


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

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