Crisis and Uncertainty: Did the Great Recession Reduce the Diversity of New Faculty?

Kwan Woo Kim*, Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin, Gal Deutsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The demographic composition of the U.S. professoriate affects student composition and, thus, the pipeline for professional and managerial jobs. Amid concern about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the labor market, much remains unknown about how economic downturns affect faculty hiring and the demographic makeup of hires. We examine the effects of the Great Recession on faculty hiring. That crisis walloped the U.S. academic labor market. Tenure-track hires in four-year colleges and universities declined by 25 percent between 2007 and 2009, recovering slowly through 2015. Hires of black, Hispanic, and Asian American faculty declined disproportionately. Public institutions and research-oriented institutions, which faced the greatest resource challenges and uncertainty about the future, made the biggest cuts in the hiring of people of color. Our findings suggest that financial uncertainty led to a reversal in progress on faculty diversity. Faculty and administrators making hiring decisions in the years following the COVID-19 crisis should be aware of this pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-324
Number of pages17
JournalSociological Science
StatePublished - 2021


  • STEM
  • economic crisis
  • faculty hiring
  • recession
  • workforce diversity


Dive into the research topics of 'Crisis and Uncertainty: Did the Great Recession Reduce the Diversity of New Faculty?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this