In contrast to some other fields, TT faculty hiring in ecology doesn’t have much to do with where you got your PhD. Here’s the data.

The faculty job market is going to be really bad this year due to the fallout from Covid-19. My heart goes out to anyone on the market this year. But still, there are some jobs out there, and so I’m sure folks on the ecology faculty job market would like good information about the market. I spent three years compiling a lot of data on the US and Canadian ecology faculty job market, summarized and linked to here. But few folks seem to click those links. So over the next few days I’m going to re-post some of the links that remain relevant and useful.

Today: as an ecology faculty job seeker in the US or Canada, should you worry that your fate has already been sealed by where you got your PhD? That is, should you worry that it’s only graduates of “top” departments who get tenure-track jobs? Or that “top” departments only hire graduates of other “top” departments? There are fields in which you should worry about those things. And according to my unscientific poll data, many ecologists do worry about those things. But they shouldn’t worry, because ecology is NOT one of those fields. As the data in that last link show, faculty hiring in ecology in the US and Canada has very little to do with where you got your PhD. Search committees in ecology have lots of information with which to evaluate applicants. They don’t rely on crude proxies like “did you get your PhD from a ‘prestigious’ university?” And the place where you got your PhD isn’t correlated with any of the (many!) variables that faculty hiring committees in ecology do look at when evaluating applicants.

(aside: same goes for bachelor’s degrees. For instance, I hope nobody thinks that most future ecology profs got bachelor’s degrees from “elite” liberal arts colleges or the Ivy League. Or that liberal arts colleges mostly only hire profs with bachelor’s degrees from liberal arts colleges. Because those things aren’t true, at all. Fortunately, our past poll data suggests that few people believe those things.)

The broader lesson here is that different fields–and even subfields–are different! When it comes to anything related to faculty hiring, you should be very hesitant to generalize from data about all of academia, or about a field different than you own, to your own field.

If you’re on the ecology faculty job market this year, I hope you found this post useful. Good luck, I hope everything works out for you.

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