Specialization and promotion in an academic discipline

Erin Leahey, Bruce Keith, Jason Crockett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


What does it take to get tenure in an academic discipline? The receipt of tenure has received less attention in the research literature on scientific careers than other career outcomes. To explain variation in the "risk" of receiving tenure, we theorize that the extent of specialization in scholars' research programs should improve promotion prospects, especially for men. Using data on sociology PhD recipients in 1972-1976, we construct a measure of research specialization and add it to a traditional attainment model that includes productivity, visibility, and prestige of specialty area(s). We find that a high degree of specialization actually decreases promotion prospects, at least for men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-155
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Academia
  • Gender
  • Professions
  • Promotion
  • Specialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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