Analysis of dynamics and hierarchy in US professor recruiting and retention
The recruiting and retention of faculty affect research priorities, educational outcomes, careers, the growth and dissemination of ideas, and the composition of the US academic workforce. However, recruiting and retention are dynamic and reflect social and academic objectives, generational change, and initiatives to diversify the professoriate along gender, race, and socioeconomic (SES) lines .
The results of these initiatives and the mechanisms that influence scholarship more widely might be clarified by an extensive examination of the structure and dynamics of the US professoriate. Here, we examine the tenure-track faculty’s academic employment and doctorate training throughout the ten-year period 2011–2020 at all US colleges that give PhDs, quantifying the substantial disparities in faculty output, prestige, retention, and gender.
Our results reveal widespread disparities that are compounded by attrition patterns and reflect steep prestige hierarchies, where a tiny minority of universities supply a substantial majority of professors in all areas. We find significantly higher attrition rates among faculty members who were educated outside of the United States or who were working for their PhD institution.
Our findings suggest that increases in women’s representation over the past ten years are the product of demographic shift and previous hiring reforms and are not expected to result in long-term gender parity in the majority of industries. These analyses quantify the dynamics of hiring and retaining US academics, and they will aid initiatives to enhance the structure, diversity, and calibre of the US academic workforce.
The US professoriate is fundamentally structured by prestige. No matter whether prestige is determined by an extrinsic ranking or reputation scheme, derived from the structure of the faculty hiring network, or determined by analyses of faculty hiring networks, which map who hires whose graduates as faculty, it is clear in many fields that prestigious departments supply an excessive amount of faculty.
Both empiricall and in mathematical models of self-reinforcing network dynamics prestigious departments also demonstrate “social closure” by excluding people who lack renown. This is made possible by relatively stable hierarchies over time.
The extensive effects of status itself make these discoveries crucial. Prestigious affiliations increase the likelihood that papers will be accepted in single- rather than double-anonymous reviews faculty at prestigious universities have access to more resources and produce more papers they also get more citations and attention they win more awards; and they earn higher salaries in the years immediately following graduation.
Furthermore, the majority of professors work for departments that are less esteemed than the ones where they received their training, making esteemed departments crucial to the dissemination of ideas and, in general, of academic norms and culture.
It is unknown how much of the observed trends and discrepancies are universal, vary by field, or are influenced by current or historical hiring or attrition due to the difficulties in compiling comprehensive data on US professors across subjects, between campuses, and across time. The inherent drawbacks of concentrating primarily on the employment of professors within the US system, to the exclusion of US faculty trained overseas, are less obvious but no less significant.
Empirically supported policies aiming at advancing scientific advancement or diversifying the professoriate would be informed by a wide, cross-disciplinary understanding of academic hierarchies and their link to enduring social and epistemic inequities.
Data and strategy
Our research looks at tenured or tenure-track academics employed between 2011 and 2020 at 368 American PhD-granting institutions, with each employee’s doctoral institution, year of graduation, faculty rank, and gender annotated. recruiting and retention Professors must be tenured or on the path to tenure in a department that appears in the majority of the analysed years in order to be counted in our study, which results in n = 295,089 professors in 10,612 departments.
A broader US faculty census that was received through a data use agreement with the Academic Analytics Research Center was cleaned and prepped to create this dataset (AARC).
We divided departments into 107 disciplines (like physics and ecology) and eight domains (like natural sciences) to make it easier to compare teachers across fields of study (Extended Data Table 1). The hand-checked AARC data field labels are not mutually exclusive, hence 23% of the instructors were given multiple field assignments (for example, members of a Department of Physics and Astronomy were assigned to both Physics and Astronomy). We limited our analysis for faculty members with several departments to just their principal appointments.
The countries of all PhD institutions were carefully noted. Recognizing that there are broad identities outside of this limited binary, self-reported faculty genders were utilised where available and otherwise algorithmically tagged (man or woman) based on historical name-gender connections. Gender annotations were produced for 85% of the records as a consequence of these techniques; professors lacking name-gender annotations were not included in gender analysis but were included in all other analyses.
We additionally documented every instance of new hiring, retention, and attrition using data acquired in previous years as a comparison. Details on data preparation and annotation are available in Methods.
We established a faculty recruiting network for each of the 107 areas, eight domains, and academia as a whole in order to analyse trends in professor hiring and interchange across US universities (Methods).
Each node in this network symbolises a university, and each directed edge represents a graduate of one institution who becomes a professor at another recruiting and retention . Those professors who work for themselves at their doctoral institutions are referred to as self-loops. We take the union of the component fields’ edges when aggregating field-level hiring into networks for the eight domains or for academia as a whole. This prevents teachers who are rostered in several areas from being counted twice. Our analyses are supported by publicly accessible anonymized data (Data availability).