Thursday, August 04, 2011

Nepotism in Italian academia

The database lists the first and last names of the 61,340 or so tenured professors in Italy along with their institutions, departments, and disciplines. ... Allesina approached the problem in a way that is "akin to computing how many species of trees we should find in a quadrant given the frequency of the species in a forest," he says. Correcting for natural name distribution in Italy, Allesina asked how many last names one should expect to find in a particular discipline if the names were selected randomly, and compared this number to the real-life number.

Allesina found "a severe paucity of names," which was most pronounced in engineering, law, medicine, geography, and pedagogy and also in the South of Italy. "The probability that the recruitment was fair is extremely low," Allesina says.

From this story. Here's the paper at Plos One.