Recent hiring trends in anthropology

Below are some highlights from a new study on faculty hiring by anthropology programs in the US.

Job Situation

approximately 79% of US anthropology doctorates do not obtain tenure-track positions . . . in the US
Since 1985, the number of doctoral degrees awarded by US anthropology departments has increased from approximately 350 to about 530 per year.
Of the ca. 13,000 doctorates in anthropology conveyed in the US between 1985 and 2014, we estimate that approximately 21% obtained tenure-track faculty positions in anthropology in the US.
A common criticism of such statistics has been that anthropology trains individuals for many sectors and career paths not captured in these numbers. While this is true, the fact remains that a large proportion of graduates who are seeking employment in anthropology will not be able to find employment within the discipline
many programs offer non-academic pathways; however, we argue that most anthropology PhD programs are designed to train and replicate the type of scholarship engaged in by its faculty, which is by definition academic. Students are trained, largely, to be academics.
It is estimated that NTTF comprise about 70% of the total faculty workforce as of 2011. Concurrent with the increase in NTTF, the numbers of full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty have decreased from approximately 55.8% in 1975 to 29.2% in 2011.
The ADEA exemption ended in December 1993 and had an immediate effect on academic retirement rates. By 2010, the number of tenured professors older than age 65 more than doubled. Currently the median age of college and university faculty surpasses all other occupational groups in the US.
Some researchers have estimated a reduction of new assistant-professor hiring rates of 10–20% and have developed models that demonstrate that rather than being a transient issue, the actual number of new faculty hires has been permanently reduced.

Elite institutions

This study determined that a small number of graduate programs in the US and Canada account for a majority of the total market-share. This work also concluded that for prospective doctoral students, obtaining a degree from the right program could be among the most critical first steps for those who aspire for a tenure-track academic career.
The 11 universities and foreign-derived doctorates in the 90th and 95th percentiles account for more than 39% of the total market share over the past 20 years. Departments in the 95th percentile average 4.7 graduates landing tenure-track positions per year, and programs in the 90th percentile average slightly more than 2 placements per year.
30 PhD programs (ca. 27% of all US doctoral programs) and foreign-derived degrees account for more than 68% of the total market share.
graduates of programs ranked at the 90th percentile and higher are being hired at higher rates than previously into departments with doctoral programs that are ranked in the 50th percentile and higher

Gender disparity

we argue that current hiring rates should reflect the graduation rates for males and females. Based on graduation rates for males and females over the past three decades, we suggest that a well-balanced department should be hiring more females than males. This is especially true given that since 1993, 60% of all anthropology doctoral recipients are female
The model shows that although gender equity has greatly improved in recent decades, especially since 1999, males continue to be disproportionately hired into tenure-track positions.
since approximately 2009, disparity in hiring has increased. Specifically, males are being hired into sociocultural anthropology positions — which represents about 55% of all anthropology faculty hires — at disproportionately higher rates than females.

Lingering Effects of the Financial Crisis

The 2007–2009 recession had a profound impact on the numbers of new tenure-track positions in anthropology. A total of 591 individuals who graduated between 2004 and 2009 obtained faculty positions at BA/BS, MA/MS, and PhD institutions in the US. In contrast, only 304 individuals who completed doctorates between 2010 and 2014 obtained tenure-track jobs. We recognize there is a lag of a few years for most individuals from the time they complete their doctorate until the time they obtain a faculty position; however, we do not expect placement rates to return to pre-recession numbers anytime soon.

Originally published at on November 9, 2018.