EAccording to a study published in Nature earlier this week (September 21). Of those same faculty members, more than 14% graduated from just five institutions: the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard University; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford University. Striking results shed light on ‘extreme inequality’ in college hiring, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
“The scale of inequality suggests that we are almost surely short of many extremely talented people and innovative ideas,” said Aaron Clauset, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado (CU), and co-author of the study. . the Chronicle.
The study examined the education and employment statuses of nearly 300,000 full and tenure-track faculty at U.S. doctoral institutions from 2011 to 2020. According to Inside Higher Educationdifferences in the size of the university or its respective departments do not explain the inequalities, which are fairly constant across all areas.
Instead, these differences stem from a recurring cycle that keeps the most prestigious universities at the top of this hierarchy, Clauset and his colleagues argue in the article. When the team algorithmically estimated institutional prestige, they found that faculty educated at prestigious institutions ended up employed at both prestigious and less prestigious institutions, while faculty educated at less prestigious institutions were unlikely to be employed. be hired by a higher prestige group. Attrition rates (the loss of university professors to other career paths) were also higher among professors trained at less prestigious institutions as well as among professors trained outside the United States, the United Kingdom United or Canada, Science reports.
The hiring inequalities detailed in the study were not limited to prestige levels. Although other studies suggest that the representation of women has increased over the years, Clauset and her colleagues say the Chronicle that this increase is largely due to the retirement of male academics rather than an increase in the hiring of women, adding that newly hired professors are even more likely to be men. Urging prestigious institutions to hire more women and others from underrepresented groups may not solve the problem, experts say. For instance, to research of University of Kansas labor economist Donna Ginther found that black investigators in elite institutions were less cited than their white colleagues when they published the same number of articles.
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Clauset and his co-authors are working on follow-up studies to further investigate the disparity in attrition rates, according to Science. Without understanding why institutions fail to retain highly skilled, highly educated recruits in a highly competitive industry, “efforts to change academia really work in the dark,” said CU Boulder and co graduate student Hunter Wapman. – author of the study. Science. Their work should be a wake-up call for institutions to rethink where and how they get their professors, Clauset adds in a statement to the the Chronicle.
“We are only just beginning to understand how much and how these disparities in tenure-track faculty mix at doctoral-granting universities in the United States [shape] what scholarships are produced and what discoveries are made,” he recounts. Inside higher education.