Academic Status Hierarchies

Academia in the United States is characterized by deep status hierarchies. I investigate these inequalities in several contexts. 

In the first, I demonstrate that cultural and stratifying mechanisms underlying faculty hiring contribute both to the consolidation of status hierarchies in academia. 

Conceptualizing the exchange of PhDs as a form of statused interaction between departments, I create a network dataset of inter-departmental hiring relations, faculty ranks and gender, as well as departmental specializations in sociology. Prior research establishes the significance of academic prestige hierarchies on faculty hiring outcomes. In a paper published in Social Networks, I contribute to this literature by conceptualizing departmental sub-disciplinary specializations as Weberian ‘lifestyles’ and show that shared specializations explain dense hiring ties between elite departments. This demonstrates that doctoral institution status shapes hiring not only directly but also indirectly through leading departments’ shared expertise in esoteric but elite subfields. By signaling prestige and producing closure, disciplinary specializations, thus, contribute to reproducing cultural and status distinctions in academia. 

In another paper published at Social Network Analysis and Mining, I show that formal evaluations of departments tend to be more unequal than status implicated in the exchange of faculty across departments. Specifically, evaluations ‘undervalue’ both elite and mid-ranked departments relative to their network structural positions. The implication is that the sheer creation of formal rankings exacerbates status hierarchies.

In a third paper published in Social Networks, I investigate a citation network in an emerging research area. Using bipartite exponential random graph models, I show that  uncertainty and centralized influence typical of an emerging area of research leads to the creation of a densely interconnecting core that acts to cohere the network. Moreover, eclecticism and innovativeness, also characteristic of a developing area, lead to a diffusely connected structure. The data, comprising 2200 authors and 76 papers have been manually coded from articles on the feminization of the labor force in Asia. 

I am collaborating with Randall Ellis and other colleagues at BU (funded by a grant from the CSWEP-SSRC Women in Economics and Mathematics Research Consortium) to investigate the effects of race and gender homophily in collaboration in the field of economics on inequalities including hiring, tenure, and promotion. We are also implementing an intervention to test if exposure to information on such inequalities generates long-term changes in co-authorship, hiring, and tenure outcomes for women and racial minorities.