Academia is a meritocracy, where the only thing that matters is your own output, hard work, and skills. Ideally.
I hate being reminded of how far away from the ideal the reality is. The term “academic pedigree” is one of those reminders.
I understand the interest in looking for connections between academics. I’ve written about my own a few times, most recently here. What I dislike is that this is seen as some sort of meaningful yardstick for judging a person’s suitability for jobs, particularly tenure-track jobs. Indeed, I’ve read at least one post somewhere saying that pedigree was the most important factor.
Do people not think that discussing job candidates and grad students and post-docs using the same terminology as livestock and show dogs is not just a little demeaning?
“Pedigree” also has connotations with aristocracies. And one of the bad things about aristocracies is that they often set things up to keep all the power to themselves. Aristocracies often want preserve the status quo and making sure the playing field never becomes level. Because when it’s all about breeding, well, there’s nothing one can do about that, now, is there?
How would the discussion change if every time someone talked about “academic pedigree,” it was replaced with “well connected in the old boys’ club”? Let’s make it explicit that this discussions of pedigree are discussions about power relationships, and not merit.
Inclining the playing field
Balkanizing small universities
To have and have not. Mostly not.
Reason No. 52 not to go to grad school
Science professor - see the comments
Hat tip to Dr. Micro O.
Dog pedigree by ronmichael on Flickr; cow pedigree by dan mogford on Flickr; both used under a Creative Commons licence.