In a recent article in PLoS ONE, Speakman et al (2018) analyzed market share and hiring trends in anthropology faculty positions across the four fields. They used data on the number of PhD students who graduated between 1985 and 2014 who obtained a faculty position in Anthropology. From the total pool of faculty hired in each ten-year time interval, the authors calculated the number and % of faculty that graduated from each university and determined the university’s market share of faculty hires. It is important to highlight that the market share reflects the raw number of graduates who were placed in academic positions in anthropology, rather than the proportional success rate at which graduate were placed. In other words, small elite programs that produce relative few students who are highly competitive in the job market could have a 100% faculty placement record, but nonetheless have a very small market share.
The main findings of the study relate to the overall health of the US job market for academic positions in Anthropology. Between 1985 and 2014, the number of doctoral graduates in Anthropology increased by almost 56%. The greater number of doctorates entering the work force and the tightening of the academic job market during this period has meant that 79% of US anthropology doctorates do not obtain tenure-track positions.
In this tightening market, Table 2 in Speakman et al. (2018) suggests that the Department of Anthropology at NYU ranks 9th among US universities (out of 118) in terms of market share, with 2.3% of placements between 2004 and 2014. However, supplementary data shows that there is an error in this table – the data reported is for the period 1994-2014, instead of 2004-2014. Using data from the past two decades rather than data from 2004-2014 favors institutions that have historically had a large market share; it does not adequately reflect gains made by anthropology departments with growing market shares. This is the case for NYU.
Using the correct data for 2004-2014 (S1 Table in Speakman et al., 2018), NYU has a market share of 3.1%. This places NYU 7th among US universities. More importantly, NYU more than doubled its market share in 2004-2014 compared with 1994-2004 (by far the largest market share gain of any of the top placed universities). This surge reflects changes made in financial aid packages, doctoral student recruitment and mentoring initiatives, and overall ranking of the department and university. A market share gain of this magnitude is an index of the increasing success that the Department of Anthropology at NYU has had in placing its doctoral students--in Anthropology proper, in a variety of other disciplines and prorgrams, as well as outside the academy--at a time when the job market has become increasingly competitive.